More Indonesian troops sent to attend to Papua uprising

Indonesian police have arrested dozens of people in the capital of Papua province, following protests and unrest last week.

A West Papuan student was killed and others injured in Jayapura early yesterday as Indonesian security forces built up their numbers in major centres of Papua.

Indonesian police vehicles attend to mass mobilisations in Jayapura, Papua province, August 2019
Indonesian police vehicles attend to mass mobilisations in Jayapura, Papua province, August 2019 Photo: Whens Tebay

The Antara news agency reports that 6,000 extra military and police personnel have been deployed to Papua since a wave of protests across the region began two weeks ago.

The widespread protests by West Papuans haven’t been confined to cities in Papua – they have also been witnessed in Javanese cities, notably the capital Jakarta.

They were sparked two weeks ago in response to racist harassment of West Papuan students in Surabaya. The protests have developed into large pro-independence demonstrations by Papuans.

A police spokesperson says 28 people have been arrested in Jayapura after the local parliament and other buildings were set ablaze – more face investigation.

In Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, a legal aid lawyer says police have charged two students with treasonous intent against the unity of the nation. Several other Papuan students and an activist in Jakarta have also been arrested.

Last Thursday and Friday, Jayapura experienced a second wave of protest which lapsed into rioting involving the burning of the Papuan People’s Assembly complex and other buildings.

Protestors also occupied the provincial governor’s buildings, before resident groups clashed in parts of the city including Abepura.

According to Tabloid Jubi, a young Papuan man was killed during a clash at dawn on Sunday in Abepura after police arrived to attend to the unrest.

The government has blocked internet across Papua in what it claims is a necessary anti-disinformation measure.

Meanwhile, authorities say that at least two protestors, and a soldier died in a clash in Deiyai on Wednesday. However Papuan activists say seven Papuan protestors were killed in Deiyai.

Source: RNZ

Tensions high in Papua with militia groups in the mix

Johnny Blades, RNZ Pacific Journalistjohnny.blades@rnz.co.nz

Indonesian civilian militia groups are stoking tensions in West Papuan towns and cities after widespread protests across the region in the past two weeks.

The protests were sparked by racist harassment of West Papuan students in Javanese cities but have developed into the largest Papuan independence demonstrations for decades.

However, the protests have given way to unrest and deadly violence, while fears mount over a crackdown by Indonesian security forces in the region.

Indonesian police have arrested dozens of people in the capital of Papua province, following the protests and unrest last week.

The second major wave of protest in Jayapura in the past fortnight lapsed into rioting involving the burning of the Papuan People’s Assembly complex and other buildings.

Jayapura burning after protestors torched the Papuan provincial capital and other buildings, 29 August 2019

Jayapura burning after protestors torched the Papuan provincial capital and other buildings, 29 August 2019 Photo: Supplied

Protestors also occupied the provincial government buildings, hoisting the banned Papuan Morning Star flag at the top of the flagpole at the governor’s office.

Governor Lukas Enembe has appealed for calm, urging Papuans not to destroy public facilities while holding demonstrations.

But he also said it was important that those behind the racist harassment of Papuans at a student dormitory in Surabaya last month – whether community members or security officers – are held to account.

The flow of information about the protests has been disrupted since Indonesia’s government blocked internet access to Papua almost two weeks ago, claiming it was a necessary measure to stop ‘hoax’ news spreading.

Yet in recent days reports have filtered out about groups of non-Papuan residents in Jayapura clashing with protestors or attacking them.

A young Papuan man was killed from a gunshot after a group of vigilantes from another part of Indonesia attacked Papuan students in a dorm in the early hours of Sunday in Abepura. Around a dozen other students were injured, with at least one still in a critical condition.

Police blockade the protest in Jayapura.

Police blockade the protest in Jayapura. Photo: Whens Tebay

The deceased student’s family has blamed police, while various reports linked the attack to an Indonesian nationalist unit named Masyarakat Nusantara.

Police said the security situation in Jayapura was now under control, although comments by Indonesia’s police chief about involvement of foreign provocateurs in the unrest instill little confidence in such claims.

Abepura-based university lecturer Paul Paramma said that since the protests surged, tension had boiled over between migrants from other parts of Indonesia – such as Java and Sulawesi – and Papuans, particularly Highlanders.

“People from outside of Papua they fly the Indonesian flag, they fly it everywhere, even in the middle of the road, to say to the demonstrators that ‘we are strong, we exist and don’t try to mess up with this town’.

“So there’s a big tension here in Jayapura between people from outside and indigenous people,” said Mr Paramma who explained that he asked for management of the University of Science and Technology to advocate for students who have been arrested.

Co-ordinated role

The crowd yelling racist chants at Papuans in last month’s mob siege on the student dorm in Surabaya was noted to have included members of nationalist civillian militia groups,effectively supported by Indonesian security forces who forcibly entered to arrest the students who they accused of disrespecting the Indonesian flag.

Similar elements from the ‘red-and-white’ brigade, brandishing national flags and weapons, clashed with protesters who mobilised in several Papuan towns in recent days, including Fakfak where they appear to be directed by Indonesian security forces.

Deakin University international politics specialist Professor Damien Kingsbury said such militia groups were imported to Papua by the military some years back. At times like this, he explained, they play a co-ordinated role.

“Papuans are being attacked by these pro-Jakarta militia groups, as well as by police. They appear to be working very closely together,” he explained.

“When you look at the structure of militias in Indonesia, they are nominally independent, but they each have a direct structural linkage back to a military or police organisation.”

Protesters in Jayapura.

Protesters in Jayapura. Photo: Whens Tebay

Indonesia has deployed an extra 6,000 military and police personnel to Papua since the protests began two weeks ago. In parts they have responded with teargas and even gun fire.

Papuan rights activists say at least seven protestors and a military officer were killed during last week’s protest in remote Deiyai in a fracas prompted by police officers’ use of teargas , although authorities said the death toll was three.

Meanwhile, Mr Enembe made a direct appeal to security forces to keep the peace.

“The security forces – in this case the military and police – when handling the expression of opinions by the people of Papua, both in Papua and other regions in Indonesia – should as much as possible make it a priority to handle these expressions in a way that avoids violence or arresting Papuans just for delivering the message.”

Authorities have forbidden further protests in Jayapura, but it is unlikely to stop people taking to the streets again as West Papuans sense the moment to keep pushing has arrived.

Indonesian police confront a protest leader in Jayapura.

Indonesian police confront a protest leader in Jayapura. Photo: Whens Tebay

President Joko Widodo’s chief of staff said he would visit Papua this Thursday to discuss the unrest with local leaders.

Professor Kingsbury described it as unlikely that Jokowi would meet any demands of the independence movement. But he said that given this is his final term in office, Indonesia’s president did have a chance to implement some reform.

“The real difficulty is going to be that any decision he takes in relation to West Papua would have to be passed by the lesgislature and that is heavily stacked with nationalists who would be pretty unlikely to endorse anything seen to be too sympathetic towards the West Papuan independence movement.”

Jokowi would also face resistance from Indonesian military commanders to any concessions to the movement, especially anything relating to a future referendum.

Source: RNZ

Papua’s Internet May Gradually Return to Normal Soon: Kominfo

Translator: Ricky Mohammad Nugraha

Editor:  Markus Wisnu Murti

TEMPO.COJakarta – The Ministry of Communications and Information (Kominfo) announced that it may gradually lift the internet bandwidth throttling across all cellular service operators in Papua and West Papua following an official recommendation from the Indonesian National Police (Polri).

“For sure, we must wait for an official recommendation from the police. We will gradually open the internet access across the regions once the police deem the regions are safe,” said Ferdinandus Setu, the acting head of Kominfo’s public communications bureau on Monday.

The ministry has imposed a controversial policy that saw internet access limited to nearly non-existent in areas affected by the widespread demonstrations in Papua and West Papua since August 21.

Ferdinandus asserted the Ministry could only lift the internet block once the police announced that the two regions were safe from the spread of hoaxes and false information. He claimed that the procedure to reopen internet access would only take 2-hours at maximum.

“It will take two hours at the most to return it to 100 percent again once Papua’s internet access is opened,” the Kominfo official said.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/

West Papua students ‘shot by militias’ as video of soldiers firing on crowds emerges

Three students believed shot in dormitories on Sunday, as video emerges of last week’s clashes in which soldiers fire on peaceful protests

Three West Papuan students have reportedly been shot in their dormitories by militia groups amid growing tensions in the region, as disturbing footage emerged of Indonesian soldiers firing on peaceful demonstrators during clashes last week in which protesters say six died.

The Papuan students were attacked in a dormitory in Abepura district, Jayapura, by police-backed armed militias on Sunday. One student was killed by a bullet wound to the chest. The students were reportedly attacked as they tried to defend themselves from vigilantes from a pro-Jakarta group calling itself Masyarakat Nusantara (Archipelago Community).

Papuan protesters allege non-Papuan vigilante groups are being encouraged by police and military to attack Papuans during what has been more than a fortnight of protests over racial discrimination and abuse as well as calls for independence from Indonesia.

Despite an internet blackout across Papua and West Papua, footage has emerged showing soldiers firing at a crowd of demonstrators outside a government office in Deiyai last week: some of the demonstrators are standing with their hands in the air, as soldiers move in.

Protesters say six people were killed in the confrontation, and more than a dozen injured, after a police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration that had occupied the regent’s office in the middle of Deiyai city.

Victor Yeimo from the West Papua National Committee said: “They [went] inside peacefully, but suddenly, without any provocation police opened fire into the mass of demonstrators. Then … people attacked with bow and arrow.”

Photos have emerged of the body of one Indonesian soldier killed in the clash last Wednesday, his body pierced with arrows.

Papua police spokesperson Commander Anton Ampang has disputed the death count, saying one protester was killed, and that security forces opened fire only after being attacked. “Around 1,000 people armed with arrows, spears and machetes joined the protesters and started to dance the Waita dance [a traditional war dance] and threw rocks at the security forces,” Anton said in a statement.

Military personnel in a car were attacked, he said.

Protesters say six people were killed in the confrontation, and more than a dozen injured, after a police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration that had occupied the regent’s office in the middle of Deiyai city.

Victor Yeimo from the West Papua National Committee said: “They [went] inside peacefully, but suddenly, without any provocation police opened fire into the mass of demonstrators. Then … people attacked with bow and arrow.”

Photos have emerged of the body of one Indonesian soldier killed in the clash last Wednesday, his body pierced with arrows.

Papua police spokesperson Commander Anton Ampang has disputed the death count, saying one protester was killed, and that security forces opened fire only after being attacked. “Around 1,000 people armed with arrows, spears and machetes joined the protesters and started to dance the Waita dance [a traditional war dance] and threw rocks at the security forces,” Anton said in a statement.

Military personnel in a car were attacked, he said.

Source: The Guardian