Raja Ampat cultural group leader arrest

22/08/2014

On 22 August at around 23:00, Abner Bastian Wanma, the Head of the Sarak Cultural Collective, Sorong (Sanggar Budaya SARAK-Sorong), a Papuan cultural group, was detained overnight in Waisai, Raja Ampat. SARAK-Sorong were scheduled to perform at the opening of ‘Sail Raja Ampat’ the next day, an event aimed at promoting tourism to Raja Ampat that was attended by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It appeared that the arrest was a pre-emptive move by the police to ensure that the performance of indigenous dance would not include any anti-Indonesian elements. In a separate event in 2007, 23 men performed the Cakalele dance at an event attended by Yudhoyono in Ambon, Maluku where the Benang Raja flag, a symbol of South Maluku independence was unfurled.

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