Indonesia's Papua hit by fresh unrest as troops deployed

21 Août, 2019, 18:45 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Indonesia's Papua hit by fresh unrest as troops deployed

The unrest was triggered by the detention of Papuan students in the city of Surabaya over accusations they had disrespected the Indonesian flag.

On Monday police in riot gear fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.

The conducive situation was the result of cooperation among all elements of the community, Indonesian military, national police, and regional leadership coordination forum (Forkopimda) under the coordination of the governor, regional military command chief, provincial police chief, social figures, religious figures, and ethnic group chiefs to stop anarchy. Reports said the local market was set on fire. Before the protests, one military battalion was assigned in West Papua province, while four military units were stationed in Papua province.

Several police officers had been injured, authorities said, and there are unconfirmed reports of wounded demonstrators.

Police reinforcements have been sent to Papua ahead of more planned protests.

"It is standard that if things escalate (authorities) will deploy additional personnel", he added.

But the move could aggravate tensions, observers warned.

"I've heard that the authorities have managed to control the protesters".

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Internet speeds in the area had also been slowed as part of the efforts to prevent hoaxes spreading, a spokesman at the information and communication ministry said.

More than 40 Papuan students were allegedly racially abused as police detained them during Indonesia's Independence Day celebrations.

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo called for calm and the government pledged to investigate the Surabaya incident.

"It is sad that the Indonesian government only listens to their decades of frustration when these people retaliated", Andreas Harsono, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Jakarta, said.

Indonesian security forces have intensified operations in Papua in recent months, after separatist rebels killed about two dozen construction workers who had been building a road in December.

In Timika, a city in the neighbouring province of Papua, where the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine operated by the Indonesian unit of Freeport McMoran is located, thousands of protesters threw rocks at a parliament building, houses, shops and a hotel.

Tens of thousands of Papuans have been displaced amid intense fighting between troops and guerrillas after a rebel faction killed 19 construction workers at a remote jungle camp previous year.

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