Mass arrests reported in West Papua

Mass arrests are reported to have been carried out in West Papua on the anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of the province.

In the provincial capital, Jayapura, 30 people were arrested at a rally against Indonesian rule.

A person who was at the rally, Rosa, says there was a heavy security presence in the city, and as soon as the rally tried to march, the police moved in to break them up.

“Once the demonstrators started to walk or march the police threatened them and said ‘if you step forward we will shoot you’, so then they had an argument and just in a short time they were arrested, like, they caught them and put them into the police truck.”

12 people were reportedly arrested by Indonesian security forces outside a maket in Manokwari on Thursday afternoon for distributing leaflets about a demonstration planned for Friday.

There were 22 protests around the world last Wednesday calling for free and open access to Indonesia’s most secretive region.

Since West Papua’s annexation in 1963, Indonesia has imposed a media blackout on the contested, resource-rich territory, allowing perpetrators of human rights violations to act with total impunity.

West Papua is one of the world’s most isolated conflict spots. For decades, Indonesian security forces have brutally suppressed Papuan pro-independence movements.

The spokesperson for the main journalists’ union in New Zealand has criticised the Indonesian blocking of access for international journalists in the West Papua region but says he is even more concerned about the “intimidation” of local Papuan journalists.

Brent Edwards, convenor of the EPMU’s Print and Media Industry Council, told Pacific Media Watch the lack of access for international journalists had been a “big concern”.

“But as important, if not more important, is the treatment of journalists in West Papua,” he said.

“How free are they to go about their business of reporting free from fear of intimidation or government heavy-handedness?”


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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