27 Aug 2019

Internet cuts in Indonesia's Papua 'repressive' - rights groups

4:32 pm on 27 August 2019

Rights groups say an internet blackout in Indonesia's West Papua marks a dangerous violation of free speech protections.

Protesters in Jayapura.

Protesters in Jayapura. Photo: Whens Tebay

Indonesia has argued the measure, imposed last Wednesday, will stop the spread of inflammatory talk amid widespread protests.

But Amnesty International, in a statement, described the blackout as an "appalling attack" on freedom of expression.

Free speech group SAFEnet joined others in calling for the government to end internet restrictions.

Its executive director, Damar Juniarto, said the outage was having a wide-reaching impact in Papua, from hospitals, to students using the internet for long-distance learning, to those using Airbnb to rent their properties.

"The government is exercising too much power in this situation," he said.

New Zealand MP Golriz Ghahraman said her government had a responsibility to speak out on West Papua because protestors there had been treated with brutality in the past.

"We need to notice that of people are being cut off from communicating with the rest of the world that abuses against them can then happen sort of in the dead of night, so to speak, and we won't know and that is scary."

A spokesperson for New Zealand's Foreign Ministry told the website Newsroom the government encourages Indonesia to improve human rights protections, including in Papua.

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