Last Update 1:5
Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Police regain control in Indonesia's Papua region after protests

Reuters , Monday 19 Aug 2019
Indonesian
Protesters take to the street to face off with Indonesian police in Manokwari, Papua on August 19, 2019 (Photo: AFP)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1135
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1135

Indonesia's police chief said on Monday that authorities in the easternmost Papua region were regaining control after protesters set fire to tyres and torched a local parliament building over the recent detention of scores of Papuan students.

A separatist movement has simmered for decades in Papua, while there have also been frequent complaints of rights abuses by Indonesian security forces.

The spark for the latest anger appears to have been the detention of Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, for allegedly bending a flagpole in front of a dormitory during the celebration of Indonesia's Independence Day on Aug. 17, according to activists.

Police fired tear gas into the dormitory before arresting 43 students, Albert Mungguar, an activist, told a news conference on Sunday. He said students had been called "monkeys" during the operation.

On Monday morning, Papuan protesters set fire to a parliament building and blocked streets in the provincial capital of West Papua, Manokwari, by burning tyres and tree branches, paralysing the town, Deputy Governor Mohamad Lakotani told Kompas TV.

Television footage showed a group of about 150 people marching on the streets, as well as footage of smoke billowing from a parliament building.

"According to the report I got from the West Papua police, the situation has gradually turned conducive," National Police Chief Tito Karnavian told reporters, adding officers from other parts of eastern Indonesia could be brought in if needed.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said Papuans were angry because of "the extremely racist words by East Java people, the police and military", he told broadcaster TVone.

East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa in a televised statement said: "We apologise because this does not represent the voice of the people of East Java" and described the slur as "someone's personal outburst of emotion".

The incident also triggered a protest in Jayapura, the capital of neighbouring Papua province, where TV footage showed thousands peacefully protesting on the streets.

Papua police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said by telephone 500 people were involved in the demonstration in Jayapura.

"It's been a while since I saw West Papuans this angry...," Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer who focuses on Papua, said on Twitter. "The liberation movement is entering a new chapter."

Koman posted videos on Twitter that she said were taken in Jayapura of people yelling "free Papua". In one of the videos, a group of teenagers can be seen carrying a Morning Star flag, which is a banned symbol used by supporters of independence.

Papua and West Papua provinces, the resource-rich western part of the New Guinea island, make up a former Dutch colony that was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticised U.N.-backed referendum in 1969.

President Joko Widodo has sought to ease tension in the restive region, including by building the Trans Papua highway to spur economic activities and improve people's welfare.

However, unrest has persisted and separatists killed a group of construction workers in December 2018, triggering a military crackdown that displaced thousands in the Nduga area.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.