Papuans on trial in Indonesia ordered to remove traditional garb

This appeared in The Millennial Source

Image for post
Image for post

On January 20, two ethnic Papuan activists who are on trial in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta were reportedly ordered to remove their traditional penis gourds, as the court refused to proceed unless the activists wore pants.

A brief standoff occurred for several hours between the Papuans and the court before the two men begrudgingly slid into trousers to proceed with the hearing. This is the second time that the Papuan’s traditional garb has caused delays in court hearings.

The two were a part of a total of six activists charged with treason by a Jakarta court in December 2019 for organizing rallies to protest for independence in the Indonesian province of Papua. The indigenous activists could face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

A former Dutch East Indies colony, Papua was incorporated into Indonesia to fulfill the decolonization agreement with the Netherlands in 1949. However, it was only handed over to Indonesia in 1969 as part of a United Nations-backed referendum .

Alleged racism against Papuans

Ethnically Melanesian, the Papuan people practice Christianity, which is in contrast to the majority of Indonesians who practice Islam. The indigenous people would often reportedly face racism from Indonesians due to their dark complexion and ethnically distinct facial features.

Papua is the largest and the easternmost province in Indonesia, bordered by Papua New Guinea in the east. Although Papua was granted special autonomy, the province has been pushing for independence due to increasing racism, among other factors, including the alleged exploitation of the land’s rich resources by the Indonesian government.

Unrest in the region

Weeks of protests and unrest followed suit, which reignited a long, ongoing separatist conflict between the province and Indonesia.

Exiled West Papuan leader, Benny Wenda, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that the treatment of the Papuan students was “just one example of what we have experienced daily for nearly 60 years.” According to the BBC, Wenda suffered racism from his first day at school when an Indonesian girl spat in his face.

Originally published at on January 21, 2020.

Written by

News features from The Millennial Source

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store