Thursday, August 29, 2019

1) Protesters torch buildings in Indonesia's Papua

3) Protests in West Papua Have Turned Violent Amid an Internet Blackout. Here's What to Know
Note. Most of  the articles contain photos and video footage. 

1) Protesters torch buildings in Indonesia's Papua

Demonstrations against alleged racial discrimination towards the indigenous West Papuans turn violent in Jayapura city.

by Febriana Firdaus  4 hours ago

Jakarta, Indonesia - Demonstrators in Indonesia's Papua province have damaged stores and a local government building as they rallied to protest against alleged racial discrimination in the country's easternmost region.
The ongoing protests were triggered two weeks ago after students in Surabaya, East Java, reportedly faced mistreatment by police and were subjected to racial abuse. They have since evolved into demands for self-determination and a call for a referendum on independence.
Harun Ona Rumbarar, a protester, told Al Jazeera, the rally started in the morning in front of the Expo building in Jayapura, the capital of Papua province.
"About 10 in the morning, the police started to disperse the mob by firing tear gas," he said.
But the protesters went back to the streets within minutes, as hundreds of students from Cendrawasih University joined the demonstration.
Later, the crowd moved to Abepura neighbourhood before marching to the governor's office in central Jayapura throwing rocks at the building of telecommunications conglomerate PT Telkom Indonesia.
"It was unexpected," protester Maria Dejan said. "Suddenly, the masses threw rocks to the building, destroying a windowpane."
The Papua People Assembly's (MRP) building was also torched, Timotius Murib, the MRP's chairman told Al Jazeera.
"We have no idea who [exactly] set fire the building," he said.
Ngurah Suryawan, an anthropologist at Papua University, said the groups attacking the building were not merely expressing their anger towards the central government in Jakarta, but also towards the MRP.
"These angry Papuans feel that they have been squeezed by two powers that exploit them (Jakarta and West Papuan elites)."

Internet blocked

Harun, a witness to the protests, said he tried to stop demonstrators from causing damages to stores, ATMs and hotels.

"I first felt that their protest had gone too far, very emotional," he said.
"But I can understand that this is the accumulation of what the people feel, because while they were destroying the public facilities, they were also complaining that they were tired with the state. There is uncertainty in the enforcement law. We have been very patient," he said.
Harun referred to the case in Surabaya, where security forces and bystanders allegedly used racial slurs against Papuan students. The Indonesian army and the national police have pledged to address the issue.
The army has suspended five of their members, including Tambaksari subdistrict military command Chief Major NH Irianto. Meanwhile, the police opened a case against a protest coordinator. 
Last week, Indonesia blocked internet access in West Papua, a move that followed the deployment of additional military and police personnel to the region to help to quell the ongoing protests and secure vital public facilities.
On Wednesday, mobile phone signals were disrupted in Deiyai regency, where witnesses said at least six protesters and one military officer were killed and several other people wounded after authorities clashed with demonstrators demanding independence.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Arif Prabowo, Indonesia's vice president of corporate communication confirmed the mobile network disruption.
But he said Telkom did not sabotage telecommunications, adding that it "only adjusted as instructed by the communication ministry".
Police insisted the protesters had provoked them to use tear gas.
"The pattern is the same as the pattern in Deiyai regency. There are some scenarios created by protesters," Dedi Prasetyo, a police spokesman, was quoted by local media.

Ethnically diverse, resource-rich

Indonesia's West Papua region is divided into two provinces: West Papua province and Papua province.

Jayapura is the biggest city in Papua province, home to almost 500,000 people. Overall, three million people live in the ethnically diverse and resource-rich region, which was a Dutch colony until the early 1960s when Indonesia made it part of the country in a controversial 1969 referendum backed by the United Nations.
A low-level armed rebellion by indigenous Papuans, who now make up about half the population after years of migration by people from other parts of Indonesia, has been rumbling ever since.
In December, violence erupted in the province, leaving at least 17 people dead and triggering a military crackdown.
About 35,000 civilians have been forced from their homes as security forces attempt to flush out the rebels from the forested mountains.
But the situation has been underreported as Indonesia limits the access of international media to the region, the country's poorest, amid allegations of human rights violations. 


Up to seven dead in West Papua as protest turns violent

At least one Indonesian soldier and six civilians have been reportedly killed in the restive region
Ben Doherty and agencies  @bendohertycorro Thu 29 Aug 2019 21.41 AEST

Up to six protesters and one soldier have been killed in clashes across the restive West Papua and Papua provinces, although protesters and police dispute how many have died.
A source at one protest in the Deiyai Regency told The Guardian on Thursday that police had fired lived rounds into a crowd of demonstrators outside the regency offices on Wednesday. Six people were killed and two seriously injured, the source, who requested anonymity fearing reprisals, said. “Shots were fired at the protesters, but people continued to sit in protest,” the source added.
Al Jazeera also reported that six protesters had been killed.
However, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said the protest by about 150 people at the Deiyai district chief’s office turned violent when more than a thousand others tried to storm the building with arrows and machetes.

Prasetyo dismissed reports of six protesters being killed as “a provocation”, but said one soldier had been killed and three police officers injured in clashes. “Security forces are trying to control the security in the area,” he said. 
Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto said in a statement that security forces managed to restore order and found two protesters had been injured, one with an arrow piercing his stomach and the other shot in the leg. Both died at a nearby hospital. A soldier died at the scene and five police and military personnel were injured, mostly by arrows.
A number of violent protests have roiled Papua since last week, triggered by videos circulated on the internet showing security forces calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs” in East Java’s Surabaya city. Students say they are regularly subjected to racist slurs and abuse.
A group of 50 Papuan students in the capital, Jakarta, staged a second protest on Wednesday and called for independence for Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.
Late on Thursday Prasetyo said that protesters had set fire to a local government building in Abepura town.
Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was seen as a sham by many. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua. Jakarta maintains Papua and West Papua are in integral and indivisible parts of the Indonesian state.
In recent years, some Papua students, including some who study in other provinces, have become vocal in calling for self-determination for their region. Protestors told The Guardian they are demanding the UN be allowed to visit the province immediately – a fact-finding mission has been agreed to by Jakarta but has not eventuated – in order to report on alleged human rights abuses. Protestors say local and provincial government officials are unrepresentative, describing them as puppets of the Jakarta administration.
Protests in several cities in Papua and West Papua provinces have turned violent over the past week, but Prasetyo said the situation is now under control and activities have returned to normal in recent days. Students have marched in the capital Jakarta, and in West Papua’s largest city Sorong, waving the Morning Star flag, representative of the Free West Papua movement.

26/8/19 Paniai, West Papua

Thousands of West Papuan highlanders marching with continuous war cry and shouts of “Free Papua!”

Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, who is exiled from Indonesia, said racist discrimination against Papuans in Indonesia had fuelled Papuan desire for independence.
“Now my people are launching a second wave of demonstrations and the time has come for us to reclaim our country.”
The Indonesian government has blocked internet access in the region since last week to “accelerate the process of restoring security and order in Papua and its surrounding areas,” he said.
Verifying news from Papua and West Papua has been made difficult by the internet shutdown.


29 August 2019 19:02 WIB
TEMPO.COJakarta -  Persecution and racial discrimination towards Papuan students in Malang and Surabaya cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever. Those responsible must be prosecuted. Justice needs to be upheld, not only to assuage the anger of the Papuans but also to bring about a deterrent effect.
The constitution guarantees all citizens equality before the law, no matter what their ethnicity, religion, race or other identities. The authorities have an obligation to protect Papuan students from persecution and racial discrimination. However, in Malang, the police allowed a group of intolerant people to attack students. In Surabaya, when a mob surrounded a dormitory for Papuan students, individuals thought to be law enforcement officials joined in shouting abuse that was an affront to human dignity.
The attacks on the students in East Java lay bare the hypocrisy of a section of Indonesian society. On one hand, Papua, which is rich in natural resources, is seen as very important to Indonesia, but on the other, the people of Papua are often looked down on and stigmatized.
After failing to prevent clashes in East Java, the government was then too late in anticipating the wave of demonstrations and violence in a number of cities across Papua and West Papua. President Joko Widodo eventually ordered the National Police chief and the commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces to go directly to Papua. But the violence had already started. Papua now stands on the brink of horizontal conflict.
The conflict must not be allowed to spread further in Papua. The government must show extra caution in reducing tensions. Sending more than 1,200 personnel from the Mobile Police Brigade and the Army Strategic Reserve Command to Papua has the potential to make matters worse. So far, the security approach has proved to be a failure in dealing with the conflict there.
This long-running conflict must be resolved from the roots. A two-part investigation by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences in 2009 and 2017 mapped out four roots of the Papua-Jakarta conflict. First, there is history and status of the still controversial integration of Papua into the Unitary Republic of Indonesia. The second is the human rights abuses and violence by the police and the military, which have not yet been resolved fairly. Thirdly, there is marginalization and discrimination of Papua’s original inhabitants. And the final root cause is the failure of development in Papua, especially in the fields of education, health and local economic empowerment. None of these problems has been solved.
Since the reformasi era began, Jakarta has changed the way it looks at and approaches Papua. From 2001 to 2018, the central government poured Rp75 trillion of special autonomy funds into Papua. Since coming to office in 2014, president Jokowi has paid repeated visits to there and has continued to push for the development of infrastructure.
However, the affirmative policies that emphasize physical development have not yet done much to change the lot of the Papuan people. Papua’s human development index is still the lowest in Indonesia. The rate of poverty is still the highest at 27.53 percent, compared with a national figure of 9.47 percent for March 2019.
There is much that needs to be done to end the Papuan conflict down to the roots. The state must own up and admit to its past wrongdoings. Those responsible for human rights violations must be put on trial. Affirmative action for local people needs to be continued. And above all, Jakarta and Papua must keep open a dialogue based on the determination to find a solution.
Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine


3) Protests in West Papua Have Turned Violent Amid an Internet Blackout. Here's What to Know

Protests have gripped the Indonesian province of West Papua for more than a week as racial and political tensions boiled over into violence. Information is scarce due to an Internet blackout in the remote region, but reports claim several people have died in clashes between pro-independence demonstrators and Indonesian authorities.
Here’s what to know about the demonstrations as they stretch into their second week:
What sparked the protests?
The most recent unrest appears to have been sparked by the mass arrest of Papuan students in Surabaya, a city on the island of Java. Citing Papuan activists, the Guardian reports that 43 students were detained in relation to the destruction of a flag during celebrations marking Indonesia’s independence on Aug. 17. The episode led to a chaotic confrontation in which students barricaded themselves inside a dormitory to fend off an angry mob, and police reportedly threw tear gas inside the building and yelled racist slurs at the Papuan students, calling them derogatory names like “monkeys” and “pigs.” The following Monday, protests erupted in the West Papuan capital Manokwari, soon spreading to other parts of the province. Demonstrations showing solidarity with West Papuans have also been held in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
What do the protesters want?
The protesters are demanding independence and racial justice. West Papua, which is located on the island of New Guinea, is a former Dutch colony that was temporarily designated as part of Indonesia upon the withdrawal of the Dutch administration. A 1969 referendum on the province’s autonomy, recognized by the international community but rejected by many Papuans as deeply flawed, declared it a part of Indonesia. “Free Papua” campaigns have since emerged calling for self-determination. The independence movement has primarily taken the form of peaceful protest and diplomacy, but at times has led to guerrilla warfare tactics against Indonesian authorities. The Indonesian government has been accused of violently suppressing the indigenous community.
How severe is the violence?
At least six protestors and one soldier reportedly were killed during unrest in the region’s Deiyai regency Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera, and several others including children were wounded. But a national police spokesman disputed the allegation that demonstrators were killed, saying one soldier died and three police officers injured when protestors stormed a district chief’s office with arrows and machetes.
The Associated Press reported that police said at least one soldier and two civilians were killed in the clashes.
Last Monday, protestors in the city of Sorong torched several buildings, including a jail, Agence France-Press reports. Demonstrators reportedly threw rocks at prisoners as they set the prison ablaze, while riot police deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
A government-enforced internet shutdown has stymied the flow of information from the region, making claims difficult to verify. Authorities say the shutdownis a “matter of national security,” according to an NPR report citing local media, but human rights groups have criticized the blackout as an attempt to cover up potentially violent suppression of protestors.
How has the government responded?
Response from Indonesian authorities has been sparse. But last week, President Joko Widodo — known as Jokowi — called for peace and said that the government will try to look after “the honor and welfare” of all people in the restive region, according to Al Jazeera.
“My brothers and sisters in Papua and West Papua, I know you feel offended,” Jakowi said in a statement. “Therefore, as fellow countrymen, to forgive each other is the best. You may get angry but forgiving is better.”

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