Jun 16, 2016

West Papua: 1000 Arrested for Calling for Independence

Over 1000 protesters were jailed on Wednesday [15 June 2016], for pacifically gathering in Sentani. The demonstrators were calling for West Papua’s independence and for the establishment of an independent body to conduct investigation on human rights violations in the area. Sadly, this is only one of the many excessive reactions taken by local authorities to suppress dissent.

Below is an article publishe by: Radio New Zeland


The protesters took to the streets in Sentani, near Papua's provincial capital Jayapura, to demand that an independent body conduct human rights investigations rather than the Indonesian government.

The demonstrators have called for an internationally monitored referendum for independence.

The march, which came ahead of a visit to papua by a top security official to look into claims of human rights violations, is the latest in a series of large pro-independence rallies since April.

Media reports say the demonstrators were detained for protesting without a permit.

Papua police spokesman Patridge Renwarin said police localised the demonstrators to limit their movements. He added no one was arrested.

The police action was backed by Atmadji Sumarkdijo, an aide of Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who is set to visit the province today.

Last month, more than 2,000 Papuan activists were detained for participating in a large peaceful demonstration on the anniversary of Dutch New Guinea's 1963 integration into Indonesia.

Papua has been gripped by a long-running and often violent separatist conflict since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely-criticised UN-backed referendum in 1969. Dutch colonial rule ended in 1963.

Security forces still maintain a strong presence and are often seen as taking a heavy-handed approach to peaceful demonstrations, activists say.