24 Oct 2012

Jakarta toughens stance on dissenting Papuans, says church leader

2:55 pm on 24 October 2012

A church leader in the Indonesian region of Papua says Jakarta is taking a more aggressive approach to people peacefully protesting there.

The head of the West Papua Baptist Church, the Reverend Socrataz Sofyan Yoman, says as many as 20 people were injured when police fired rubber bullets during a pro-independence rally in Manokwari on Tuesday.

Hundreds of police were deployed as about 300 people gathered outside the University of Papua in Manokwari, and a clash broke out with students hurling stones at the officers.

An AFP reporter at the scene says eight people were taken to hospital but no one was seriously hurt.

The Reverend Yoman says the attack on what had been a protest timed to coincide with action being taken by MPs in Britain, shows a tougher stance is now being taken by Jakarta towards Papuans peacefully seeking peace and justice.

The Australian Greens have expressed serious concern after the latest violence.

Senator Richard Di Natale says Australia cannot continue to sit idly by while human rights are abused on its doorstep.