4 Apr 2009

Thousands rally in Papua for election boycott and self-determination

10:30 pm on 4 April 2009

Thousands have rallied in Indonesia's eastern Papua region to call for self-determination rights to be addressed by Jakarta and a boycott of elections amid a police crackdown on dissent.

According to local church activist Yones Douw, more than 10,000 activists took to the streets of Nabire and Wamena towns, calling for dialogue on self-determination and for Papuans to boycott national legislative elections next week.

However in the provincial capital Jayapura, police arrested 15 activists after raiding the offices of the Papuan Customary Council, the top representative body for indigenous Papuans.

The council secretary general Leonard Imbiri told AFP that they trashed the offices, destroyed equipment and premises.

The West Papua National Committee says the activists were arrested on suspicion of trying to organise a rally in the city, after an earlier request for one was turned down by police.