20 Dec 2016

Over 500 arrested in West Papua demonstrations

2:10 pm on 20 December 2016

There were over 500 reported arrests from West Papua demonstrations in Indonesian cities yesterday.

Over 500 people were reportedly arrested from West Papua demonstrations in Indonesia, December 2016.

Over 500 people were reportedly arrested from West Papua demonstrations in Indonesia. Photo: Supplied

The demonstrations were calling for self-determination for West Papuans on the anniversary of the first Indonesian military invasion in 1961.

Demonstrations were held in Jayapura, Merauke, Nabire, Manokwari, Timika, Yahukimo and Sorong and also in cities outside Papua such as Jakarta, Manado, Ambon, Bandung and Yogjakarta.

Police in the various centres rejected granting the demonstrators permission, but the activists proceeded anyway.

In total, 528 demonstrators were arrested by Indonesian police across these cities.

In Wamena, 165 people were arrested, of whom 15 are understood to have been released.

Arrests numbered 126 in Merauke with all later released.

Children were reportedly among the 74 arrested in Nambire and also amongst those arrested in Merauke and Wamena.

Activists with the West Papua National Committee, which organised many of the demonstrations, were subject to beatings in Jayapura and had their central headquarters vandalised.

There are also allegations of ill-treatment of demonstrators who were arrested in Nabire where several are badly injured after assault by rattan cane and coal.

The latest round of mass arrests brings to well over 5000 the number of people arrested in Indonesia for peaceful demonstrations in support of West Papuan self-determination this year.

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