Papua protest at Exam Schools

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The University Exam Schools were the site of protest today, as members of the ‘Free Papua Movement’ campaigned against the University’s invitation of the Indonesian Vice President to deliver a lecture in the venue. Doctor Boediono had been invited to speak on the subject of “Transforming Indonesia: the challenges of good governance and Economic Development.”

Campaigners for the movement – an organisation aiming for the overthrow of the Indonesian government in West Papua – brandished banners and the Morning Star flag at the main entrance to the Schools. The West Papua region, part of the island of New Guinea, was annexed by Indonesia in 1963.

Serogo Tabuni, leader of the campaign group and former resident of West Papua said: “Indonesia has illegally occupied West Papua for fifty years, and murder, torture and intimidation is still going on there to this day […] There is no democracy  and no journalism in West Papua, whilst in Indonesia there is. Even the Red Cross , even Amnesty are banned.”

He added: “we will never give up our fight for self-determination from the colonialism of Indonesia.”

Tabuni referred also to the support the campaign has gained from public figures including the Lord Mayor of Oxford and Richard Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford.

Lauren Horswell, an activist for the Free Papua Movement, commented: “the situation in West Papua is horrendous […] the university welcoming the Vice President of Indonesia to speak on good governance is ironic.”

Asked what her message would be to the University, she added: “they should think about the people they invite to speak, and the messages that they’re allowing them to bring, and ask them to take into account some different perspectives.”

“I don’t have a problem with the Vice President being given a platform to speak, but campaigns such as this one should be given a platform also.”

Charlie Silver, first year chemist at Queen’s commented: “I had no awareness of what’s occurring in West Papua, but it seems like a legitimate claim.”

He added: “It would be interesting to read more and see if the protestors have a valid point in their case.”

Dr Boediono’s lecture formed part of a programme co-hosted by the University’s Blavatnik School of Government.