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Call for basic rights, independence

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 9, 2010) – In Indonesia, at least 50,000 Papuans have reportedly marched towards the provincial parliament in Jayapura, calling for a formal rejection of special autonomy status.

The Papuans are calling for the upper house to endorse last month’s decision by the lower house to reject the autonomy arrangement which they say has failed to ensure their basic rights.

The protesters also called on Jakarta to establish dialogue on the Papua issue with a neutral mediator and allow a referendum on self-determination.

Australia-based activist Nick Chesterfield has been monitoring the situation...

"The sheer numbers of people on the streets: peaceful, vibrant - okay, a few were angry but they weren’t violent - and the reports we’ve got is that it totally overwhelmed the security forces and that they couldn’t act. There were just too many people."

Nick Chesterfield says the march was the biggest of a series of protests drawing tens of thousands of demonstrators across Indonesia’s Papua region.

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