• Thursday, Dec 01, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Indonesia blocks internet in Papua over unrest fears

  • Published at 12:15 pm August 22nd, 2019
Papuan students break away from a line of police and military (in background) blocking them during a rally in front of the army's headquarters in Jakarta on August 22, 2019, as riots and demonstrations have brought several cities in Indonesia's eastern province of Papua to a standstill this week AFP

The riots appear to have been triggered by the arrest of dozens of Papuan students in Java at the weekend, who were also pelted with racist abuse

Indonesia has cut off internet access in unrest-hit Papua over fears that a stream of offensive and racist online posts would spark more violent protests in the region, the government said Thursday.

Riots and demonstrations brought several Papuan cities to a standstill this week, as buildings were torched and street battles broke out between police and protesters in Indonesia's easternmost territory.

A rebel insurgency against Jakarta's rule has simmered for decades in the resource-rich but impoverished island, which shares a border with Papua New Guinea.

The riots appear to have been triggered by the arrest of dozens of Papuan students in Java at the weekend, who were also pelted with racist abuse.

Indonesia had slowed internet service in recent days to clamp down on hoaxes and provocative comments targeting Papua's ethnic Melanesian population.

But it shut down service completely late Wednesday, although many users still managed to get around the block.

"The amount of racist and provocative content was very high... and it went viral," communications ministry spokesman Ferdinandus Setu told AFP.

Calm appeared to have been mostly restored Thursday after Indonesia sent in 1,200 extra police and military to Papua. A few dozen protesters were arrested.

Several police officers had been injured, and there are unconfirmed reports of wounded demonstrators. No deaths have been reported.

The unrest came after reports that authorities tear-gassed and briefly detained some 43 Papuan university students in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-biggest city, on Saturday -- the country's independence day.

Police in riot gear stormed a dormitory to force out students who allegedly destroyed an Indonesian flag, as a group of protesters shouted racial slurs at them, calling them "monkeys" and "dogs."

'Second-class citizens' 

In Jakarta on Thursday, more than 100 demonstrators scuffled with police near the presidential palace as they called for Papuan independence.

Some were dressed in traditional clothing and with their faces painted in the image of Papua's banned flag.

"Papuan students are treated like second-class citizens," university student Mika Dabe told AFP.

"Our dignity and pride have been trampled on."

In riot-hit Sorong, Indonesia's chief security minister Wiranto on Thursday appealed for calm, as he referred to Papua as the nation's "golden child".

"Indonesia's unity is non-negotiable," the minister, who goes by one name, told reporters.

"Don't let negativity divide us."

Wiranto had flown to Papua with the head of the military and Indonesia's national police chief, while President Joko Widodo was expected to visit next week.

In Bali's capital Denpasar, dozens rallied and carried placards that read "Stop Racism" and "Stop Genocide."

"It was discriminatory and racist," said rally coordinator Jeeno Dogomo, referring to the Surabaya arrests.

"But the riots weren't just triggered by the Surabaya incident. They were also caused by what's happened in the past and the abuse that Papua has suffered."

Papua has been the scene of a low-level insurgency aimed at breaking away from Indonesia, which took control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s after an independence referendum widely viewed as a sham.

Security forces have long been accused of committing rights abuses against Papuans who say they have not shared in the impoverished region's vast mineral wealth.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail