‘If We Are Monkeys, Don’t Force Monkeys to Fly the Indonesian Flag’: Racism, Nationalism and Papua


Protesters at one of the recent anti-racist demonstrations in Papua held a banner reading “If we are monkeys, don’t force monkeys to fly the Red and White (Indonesian flag)”.

 The Papuans protesters were saying “if you think we are monkeys, you don’t regard us as fellow Indonesians”. The banner suggests something of a shift in the discourse about the place of Papuans in the Indonesian state.

 The protests and demonstrations throughout Papua were triggered by a conflict at a student hostel in Surabaya on the eve of Indonesian Independence Day (17 August), when a nationalist crowd and some soldiers surrounded the hostel and called the students monkeys, dogs and pigs. The students had been accused of throwing an Indonesian flag into a ditch.

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