Security forces and right-wing groups prevent peaceful ‘Trikora’ demonstration in Jakarta

Joint security forces and multiple right-wing groups have prevented Papuan students from holding a peaceful demonstration in commemoration of Jakarta's Trikora speech. On 19 December 1961, Indonesia’s first president Soekarno held the Trikora Speech. He expressed Indonesia’s claims regarding the former Dutch colony of Nederlands Nieuw Guinea; today commonly referred to as West Papua. Supporters of the Indonesian Peoples’ Front for West Papua (FRI WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) met in central Jakarta on 19 December 2020, around 12.30 pm, and began to walk towards the presidential palace.

Former political prisoner and one of the organisers of the protest, Ambrosius Mulait, stated that the right-wing groups blocked the road, bringing banners with slogans like ‘NKRI, harga mati’ (The Unity of the Indonesian State is not negotiable). According to Mulait, the security forces did not undertake any measures to push back the right-wing groups and allow the Papuan students to proceed. Instead, officers requested all protesters to take COVID-19 rapid tests and reportedly arrested one protester named Sehen Sama. Police officers pulled Sehen Sama into a police truck but rereleased him after the protesters prevented the car from leaving. After short negotiations between the students and the police, the protesters agreed to be escorted to the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) [see photo, source: Jubi], where the crowd voluntarily dispersed.