15 Nov 2011

Thousands march in Indonesia's Papua demanding self-determination

8:11 am on 15 November 2011

Thousands of protesters staged a pro-independence rally in Indonesia's Papua demanding a referendum for self-determination.

More than 3,000 native Papuans, some in traditional grass skirts, walked 13 kilometres from Abepura city to the provincial capital Jayapura to meet local MPs yesterday.

Protest coordinator Mako Tabuni told AFP the Papuan people have asked for an immediate referendum for self-determination.

Dozens of armed police attempted to block the protesters but failed to stop them from reaching the local house of representatives in Jayapura, where another 100 police waited on guard.

A local police chief said they were hoping the protest did not turn anarchic.

At least five Papuans were killed last month and many more injured when Indonesian security forces broke up the Third Papuan People's Congress which had declared independence.

Videos recently broadcast on Australian television showed police beating unarmed protesters, including children.