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Indonesia deploys security personnel in West Papua amid unrest

Indonesia deploys security forces in West Papua amid tensions
Indonesia deploys security forces in West Papua amid tensions

Indonesia has deployed security personnel and cut internet access in West Papua until atmosphere ‘returns to being conducive and normal’.

Indonesia resorted to deploying over 1,000 security personnel and cut internet access in West Papua in an effort to quell ongoing protests. The protests gained momentum after Papuan students were arrested in Surabaya. On Wednesday, clashes occurred between the police and protesters which prompted the authorities to take the move.

Indonesia’s communication ministry stated that the internet access has been cut in Papua and surrounding areas to “accelerate the process of restoring security”. The order will last “until the atmosphere of Papua returns to being conducive and normal”, the ministry added.

The strict action was taken after as many as 5,000 demonstrators threw rocks at the local parliament building and tried to bring down its fence in the city of Timika. Police said that protesters destroyed parts of an airport in Sorong city. At least 250 inmates escaped from prison, police added.

Videos of protesters hoisting the banned Papuan flag have surfaced online. In the video, demonstrators can be seen chanting “Freedom Papua” and holding banners which demanded a referendum for independence.

West Papua police chief, Herry Rudolf Nahak, asserted that the situation is under control as they have the assistance of additional police officers who have been deployed from other cities such as Jakarta, Bali, and Makassar. The police have arrested 45 people so far.

Papua, a former Dutch colony, was integrated into Indonesia in 1969, following which insurgency has troubled the region which is divided into Papua and West Papua. In recent years, student protests and demand for independence has intensified.

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