14 Nov 2022

Police break up West Papua rally with teargas, seven arrested

2:12 pm on 14 November 2022
A Papuan student waves the West Papua flag, the Morning Star during a rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 28 August, 2019.

Photo: AFP/Andrew Gal

Seven students in West Papua have been arrested by police over protest action which included the flying of banned Morning Star flags.

Speaking with Tribun-Papua, action coordinator Kaitanus Ikinia confirmed the rally and subsequent arrests.

Ikinia said that the action, at the Jayapura Science and Technology University (USTJ) campus in Abepura, was part of the commemoration of 22 years since the death of Papua independence figure Theys Hiyo Eluay.

He said the police acted quickly against them.

"The protesters were giving speeches on campus conveying their aspirations and the police entered the USTJ campus grounds where the demonstration was and without any coordination, straight away forcibly broke it up," he explained.

Ikinia said the police fired teargas in breaking up the rally.

The students were calling for action on several topics, including opposing the state forcing the Papuan people to accept new autonomous regions, and urging the state and the United Nations to officially acknowledge the right of self-determination for West Papua.

The Morning Star flag is considered a symbol of the West Papua struggle for independence and has been strictly barred by the Indonesian authorities.

In September, seven people were found guilty of treason after raising the flag and each were jailed for 10 months and fined.