Protesters burn buildings in Indonesia's Papua after alleged racist remark by teacher

24 Septembre, 2019, 01:09 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • A building burns in Wamena in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province after fresh protests. AFP

Indonesian security forces say 19 civilians and a soldier have been killed during rioting in two towns in Papua, in an escalation of violence in a region that in recent weeks has seen its most serious civil unrest in years over perceived ethnic racial discrimination.

Students responded by filtering through the town and torching several buildings, including government and public facilities, as police and military struggled to contain the unrest throughout the day.

Protesters in Indonesia's Papua province set fire to homes and other buildings on Monday.

The latest violence reportedly broke out in response to an alleged incident in which a teacher hurled racist slurs at students in Wamena on Saturday.

Police said an investigation found that the rumour was a hoax.

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Provincial health chief Aloysius Giyai said earlier that four people, including a soldier, were killed and 10 injured in clashes between security forces and student protesters in Jayapura, about 250 kilometres from Wamena. At least five police officers were in critical condition.

Papua, on the western half of New Guinea island, has been gripped by weeks of violent protests fuelled by anger over racism, as well as fresh calls for self-rule in the impoverished territory.

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President Joko Widodo has instructed the authority to tackle the unrest in Papua proportionally and professionally, Chief of the Presidential Staff Moeldoko quoted the President as saying.

The police is launching an organized and intensive search for a person suspected of spreading fake news.

"We are lured to violate human rights so that (issues on Papua) can be put on the agenda of the United Nations meeting", said Moeldoko, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Smoke raises from a burning building during a violent protest in Jayapura, Papua Province, Indonesia.

Resource-rich Papua - which is home to Grasberg, the world's biggest gold mine and second-biggest copper mine - was a Dutch colony that was incorporated into Indonesia after a controversial UN-backed referendum in 1969.

The region has been the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency since the 1960s.

After the August protests began, Indonesia has sent nearly 6000 additional military and police personnel to the region and has blocked internet access to prevent use of social media.

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