20 Jul 2016

Papuan students in Indonesian cities fearful

7:26 pm on 20 July 2016

West Papuan university students in various Indonesian cities fear for their safety under close security forces' surveillance.

The Papuan Student Alliance says that last week hundreds of police burst into a West Papuan students' dormitory in Yogyakarta and began assaulting the students.

The students had been planning a demonstration in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua's bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Reports are coming through that Papuan dormitories in Yogyakarta as well as Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya and Manado are being tightly monitored by Indonesian police and civilian militia.

An Australia-based Papuan student, Yamin Kogoya, said fellow Papuan students in Indonesia who he's heard from have been afraid to leave their dorms.

"These students, they're not just Papuans, but citizens of Indonesia. They are not allowed to express their voice freely, democratically," said Mr Kogoya.

"And it is very unfortunate to see the Indonesian security forces react the way they did last week. There's no need for... they see the Papuans as though they are terrorists or some sort of criminal organisation."

Meanwhile, an Indonesian military tribunal in Jayapura, Papua Province, has sentenced a soldier to 20 years jail for killing three people, including two toddlers, in Bintuni.

The Jakarta Post reports the judge saying the sentence is higher than the military prosecutors had sought because there were no mitigating factors.