On Thursday, July 8, 2010, Papuan protesters began to rally from Sentani and Abepura, marching to the Papuan House of Representatives (DPR Papua) in downtown Jayapura. Women painted the Morning Star flag on their bodies despite an Indonesian government ban on displaying the Morning Star in public space.
On Thursday night, I chatted with some female friends involved mostly with logistics of the protest in Jayapura. They handled food, water and other logistical stuffs. They told me that they had received donations, mostly nasi bungkus (“rice box”). The meals came from various women groups and retired civil servants. Some donated money especially retired civil servants. One particular group, assigned to set up "Freedom Cafe," provided 1,750 boxes for a single meal.
They said the nasi bungkus were quite "chaotic" in a sense that meals were so diverse. The protests were organized by more than 20 organizations which included big groups like Dewan Adat Papua, but also smaller and more radical groups, like Komite National Papua Barat. These different groups assigned their logistic people to prepare the nasi bungkus.
Thursday afternoon, the coalition prepared 8,000 nasi bungkus and ... not enough. They added 4,000 more nasi bungkus in the next two hours. It means that at the peak of the protest, Thursday evening, at least 10,000 people joined the protest, assuming some male student activists ate more than one box.
Thursday night, they estimated about 1,200 protesters slept at the DPR Papua building in downtown Jayapura. They mostly came from Keerom, Genyem and Sentani. These three areas were outside Jayapura. These were too far for the protesters to go back home. The logistic people provided 1,200 nasi bungkus for dinner. It was more or less enough.
The business activities in Jayapura were closed. The street connecting Abepura-Jayapura was closed.
Friday morning, the crowd got bigger again. The logistic people provided 8,000 nasi bungkus for lunch. It was enough.
Protesters established their banner in the DPR Papua building in downtown Jayapura. The message is clear: autonomy has failed. The Papuans want to have a UN-sponsored referendum.
At about 3pm, two activist friends warned me about tension in the DPR Papua compound. They said many police officers had entered the areas around the compound. Reporter John Pakage estimated 1,000 officers were deployed, mostly from Dalmas and Brimob units. The police brought in water cannons and armored vehicles.
In an interview with BBC, Jayapura police chief Imam Setiawan threatened to use live ammunition against the Papuans if they don't leave the DPR Papua building by 3pm. Setiawan used to be the police chief on Serui Island when the brutal murder of Yawan Wayeni taking place in August 2009. Remember the gruesome video?
John Pakage kept on calling me. He said it was very tense. Protesters insisted to stay inside the DPR Papua building.
Angela Flassy of the Suara Perempuan Papua weekly newspaper called me, saying that the police had closed the area, banning journalists to enter the downtown area. She said that the police had felt that Anteve’s broadcasting was too much on the Papuan protests. Flassy cannot enter the area herself. She decided to return to Abepura and wrote her reports.
At a two-day meeting on June 9-19, 2010, to evaluate special autonomy, the Papuan People Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua), in consultation with indigenous community groups, concluded that the implementation of autonomy had failed and that the law should be 'returned' to the Indonesian government. The MRP called for dialogue with neutral international mediation.
By 4pm the protest leaders, headed by Salmon Yumame, a retired Telkom executive, decided people should leave the compound. They did the rally in peace. Bullets are not the answer. The most important thing was that the message was already delivered: SPECIAL AUTONOMY HAS TOTALLY FAILED. The fact that the police had decided to use force shows once again the failure of the Special Autonomy.
By 5pm-5:30pm, protest leaders used the megaphone and called on the Papuans to leave the DPR Papua compound in peace. They said the message is already delivered. Let's go home.
Protest leaders agreed to empty the building by 6pm, according to Yumame of Forum Demokrasi Rakyat Papua Bersatu.
Benny Giay, one of the elders of the Forum Demokrasi Rakyat Papua Bersatu, talked to a number of international media, including BBC, AFP, Radio Netherlands etc. He made impressive comments on the failures of the Special Autonomy. "Everything that the Papuan do is negative in the eyes of Indonesia," he told me.
By 7 pm everyone was back home.
I talked to Benny Giay at around 8pm. He was already back in his house in Sentani. He said the logistical people were one of the most hard working elements of the protest. He calculated the number of the protesters based on the nasi bungkus. The peak was at least 10,000 Papuans. No violence. Papuans showed they're peaceful.