11 Sep 2019

Police investigate claims snakes thrown at Papuan students

4:50 pm on 11 September 2019

Indonesian police are investigating claims by West Papuan students that masked motorcyclists threw bags of snakes at them.

The incident reportedly took place early Monday morning at a dormitory in Surabaya where students were last month subjected to racist taunts.

The abuse sparked violent protests across Indonesia which have included calls for independence and have prompted a police crackdown.

A video shared by human rights lawyer Veronica Koman showed a large python captured by the students, who say three other snakes escaped.

The snakes were thrown by a group of four people on motorbikes, who then reportedly sped away.

An East Java police spokesperson, Frans Barung Mangera, told the Guardian, police were investigating who was responsible for "spreading terror".

He also confirmed the dormitory was under police guard. The hostel is where dozens of students were attacked and threatened by a mob and then teargassed and arrested by police on 17 August.

Meanwhile, police on Saturday issued a warrant for Ms Koman, urging her to return to Indonesia and take responsibility, the news site Tempo reported.

The lawyer was named a criminal suspect last week for allegedly spreading fake news online and fuelling violent protests in Papua.

Under Indonesian online information laws, Ms Koman could be jailed for up to six years if found guilty.

In February, Indonesian police apologised for using a snake during an interrogation of a Papuan man in custody.

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