Youth in Action, November-December 2019

From the November-December 2019 issue of News & Letters

by Buddy Bell

On Aug. 22 and 28, Papuan students in Jakarta held demonstrations to confront racism and call for self-determination in the Indonesian-controlled half of the island of New Guinea. According to Indonesian news site Kompas.com, students shouted at police to resign over the release of videos in which officers were filmed calling Black-skinned Papuans monkeys and dogs. Protest coordinator Albert Mungguar was quoted by AP: “We are not monkeys. We are human beings who want independence. We ask Indonesia’s president to hold a referendum for independence. It’s the right solution for the people of Papua.” Protesters’ home provinces are under de facto martial law amidst a resurgence of pro-independence protests and roadblocks. With Jakarta deploying 45,000 soldiers—including Konstrand Commandos trained and funded by the U.S. and Australia—rifle fire has killed 32 Papuans as of late September. The short-lived nation of West Papua declared independence in 1961 but was arrogantly gifted to Indonesian rulers under the so-called New York Agreement pushed by John Kennedy in 1962.

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During the closing remarks of a Sept. 12 presidential debate in Houston, four undocumented audience members with the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium stood up and chanted, “We are DACA recipients, our lives are at risk. Save DACA in the Supreme Court now!” The court will hear arguments on Nov. 14 as to whether Trump is allowed to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In a Twitter video, the activists explained that they needed to reach the public since the urgent matter of immigration policy had been largely ignored in the debates.

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The Miami Beach, Fla., city council on Oct. 16 unanimously passed a resolution drafted by local high school students who participated in the national student strike for the climate on Sept. 20. The resolution requests that state and federal officials begin an “emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate.” Student John Paul Mejia told the Miami Herald: “This is a first step. We need to shift the narrative to understand this as a crisis because that’s what it really is.” Most of his city sits on porous limestone, only five feet above sea level.

 

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