3 Sep 2019

Indonesia bans violent protests, separatism in West Papua amid unrest

2:41 pm on 3 September 2019

Indonesia has banned violent protests and separatist speeches in West Papua.

Protesters march against racism in Jayapura, August 2019.

Protesters march in Jayapura last week Photo: Whens Tebay

Police issued several notices over the weekend after more than two weeks of mass demonstrations across the region.

Since unrest broke out last month, dozens have been arrested in several Papuan cities and at least 10 people have been killed.

Protestors have burned government buildings in anti-racism riots which have included calls for an independence referendum.

On Monday, Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto said the police notices ban further demonstrations and spreading separatism.

The state-news agency Antara reported him saying 41 people had been arrested for damaging public facilities and looting.

Indonesia has also reportedly banned foreigners from travelling to West Papua amid the protests.

CNN reports Indonesia's chief security minister, Wiranto, saying foreigners won't be allowed to enter the two provinces until unrest subsides.

On Monday, Indonesian police said four Australians who allegedly took part in a pro-independence protest in Sorong would be deported.

On Sunday, Indonesia's National Police Chief, Toto Karnavian, claimed groups spreading anarchy in Papua had links to "international networks," Antara reported.

Indonesian police respond to large anti-racism protests, Jayapura, 19 August 2019

Indonesian police respond to large anti-racism protests in Jayapura Photo: Whens Tebay

The news agency quoted Jayapura's police chief as saying four people were killed in the city during protests last week.

Papuan police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said one soldier and five civilians were killed in Deiyai regency last week - a higher civilian toll than the three previously stressed by the government.

Initial news reports that six died when police opened fire on peaceful protestors had been dismissed as a "hoax".

For the past two weeks, an internet blackout across Papua in response to protest-related disinformation and reported restrictions to cellular networks has made verifying information difficult.

An official with the Ministry of Communications, Information and Communication was reported as saying on Monday that some restrictions on WiFi networks had been lifted.

Reports from activists and witnesses say vigilante mobs including members from other parts of Indonesia have attacked Papuan protestors, killing at least one.

Indonesia has deployed an extra 6,000 military and police personnel to Papua since the protests began two weeks ago.

In some parts they have responded with teargas and even gun fire.

Forum Secretary General concerned over situation in West Papua

The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, has expressed concern at escalating violence in West Papua.

In a statement, Dame Meg called for calm, and for all parties to uphold human rights and to address the root causes of the conflict by peaceful means.

The Secretary General said the violence makes the proposed visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights even more important.

She repeated the recent call made by Forum Leaders in Tuvalu for the timing of the commissioner's visit to be finalised.

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor.

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

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