1 Dec 2009

West Papua "Independence Day" ceremonies take place amid tight security

8:05 pm on 1 December 2009

West Papua nationalist flag-raising ceremonies have been taking place around the Indonesian region of Papua amid tight security by security forces.

December the 1st marks the forty-eighth anniversary of the West Papuan Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonial rule - referred to by many Papuans seeking separation from Indonesian rule as West Papua Independence Day.

Hundreds of extra paramilitary police have been deployed to regencies like Jayapura and Mimika to monitor ceremonies in which Papuans raised the outlawed Morning Star flag.

Human rights activists claim that dozens of Papuans have been beaten up by paramilitary police in Jayapura for conducting one such ceremony.

International cities where similar ceremonies are taking place include Welington where the New Zealand Green Party's foreign spokesman Keith Locke urged his country to do more to help forge a resolution in Papua.

"We can help address the social crisis and economic crisis in West Papua through over-logging where the people of Papua are losing their forests and not regaining any benefit out of it, are being exploited by big mining companies like Freeport and are suffering at the moment an AIDS epidemic that New Zealand could help address with assistance."

Keith Locke