3 Dec 2018

Hundreds arrested in Indonesia over West Papua demos

3:29 pm on 3 December 2018

More than 500 people have been arrested in Indonesia, after mass Papuan independence demonstrations turned violent.

On Saturday, thousands of Papuans across the country marked the 57th anniversary since the Papuan Morning Star flag was first flown officially.

In Surabaya, where one of the biggest rallies took place, video shows Papuans clashing with opposition groups.

Organisations including the nationalist Pancasila Youth exchanged blows with Papuan demonstrators as police tried to restore order.

The Jakarta Post reports at least 17 people were injured, with photos circulating of bloody head wounds.

A lawyer representing Papuans, Veronica Koman, says 537 people were arrested across several cities.

Human rights groups are calling for any people remaining in custody to be released.

An Australian woman, Ronda Amy Harman, is also reportedly among those arrested.

Activist calls for NZ rethink on West Papua after mass arrests

A human rights activist says New Zealand should rethink its policy towards West Papua in the wake of the violent demonstrations and mass arrests over the weekend.

Activist Maire Leadbeater said New Zealand should urgently respond to the weekend's arrests.

"If New Zealand would stand beside Vanuatu and support self-determination for the West Papuan people, it would make a major difference. I challenge anybody to tell me that's not so. There are a number of Pacific nations already speaking up. What's lacking is the big, powerful rich nations like New Zealand."

The demonstration in support of West Papua in Wellington.

The demonstration in support of West Papua in Wellington. Photo: Supplied/ NZGreen Party

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