1 May 2013

Indonesian security forces act against West Papua anniversary rallies

8:49 pm on 1 May 2013

Indonesian police and army units have conducted raids and armed sweeps across Papua region to counter demonstrations to mark May 1st, the 50th Anniversary of Indonesia's annexation of Western New Guinea.

Mass demonstrations were planned for the provincial capital of Papua, Jayapura, however security forces mounted a series raids early in the morning to prevent public participation in the rallies.

West Papua Media reports that thousands of members of civil society organisations converged on parts of Jayapura as well as centres of West Papua province such as Biak and Sorong.

Some of the rallies, in Jayapura and Sorong, were forcibly broken up by police.

Led by a coalition of pro-independence networks including the National Federated Republic of West Papua and the West Papua National Committee, the demonstrations aimed to peacefully protest against Indonesian rule.

Meanwhile, a leading West Papuan academic says Indonesia will not solve problems in Papua region by hunting and killing Papuans leaders and activists.

The US-based Octo Mote, who is part of a group of exiled West Papuans promoting dialogue with Jakarta, says violence and human rights abuses have been increasing in Indonesia's eastern region over the last couple of years.

He says the large presence of the military is hampering peace efforts while security forces are targetting West Papuans leading the peace movement.

"If Indonesia keep doing by assasinating the leader the issue will never solve, and today the West Papuan peoples back home are commemorating fifty years of colonisation. I think it's very historical, this moment, to end this fifty years of colonisation through peaceful dialogue."

Octo Mote