2 Dec 2015

Reported deaths on West Papua Flag Day

9:34 pm on 2 December 2015
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Photo: RNZI

Reports from Indonesia's Papua region indicate up to four people have been shot by police and military as the security forces cracked down on people marking West Papuan Flag Day.

Thousands of people across the world took part in demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the region's declaration of independence in 1961, when the Morning Star flag was first raised.

Wellington rally to mark first raising of West Papua's banned Morning Star flag

Wellington rally to mark first raising of West Papua's banned Morning Star flag Photo: RNZI

The Morning Star was subsequently banned in Indonesia, so many West Papuans look to mark this anniversary without raising the flag.

However, demonstrating independence aspirations in Papua is dangerous, and reports have emerged today from the town of Serui that up to four people were shot by military and police.

A West Papua independence activist Benny Wenda said he's heard of at least one death among the many reports of people being arrested, beaten and intimidated across West Papua for marking the day.

"In Serui, a person was shot dead by Indonesian police and two are critical. And some of the members also beat them up. The reports are still coming. And in Nabire a few days before about 32 people were arrested, just preparing for celebrations before 1 December."

Papuan pro-independence demonstrators are arrested by police in Jakarta on December 1, 2015, after police fired tear gas at a hundreds-strong crowd hurling rocks during a protest against Indonesian rule over the eastern region of Papua.

Papuan pro-independence demonstrators are arrested by police in Jakarta, December 2015. Photo: ROMEO GACAD / AFP