12 Dec 2016

Thousands of West Papuans mark human rights day

1:19 pm on 12 December 2016

At least 6000 West Papuans are estimated to have demonstrated in the Papuan Highlands town of Wamena to mark Human Rights Day at the weekend.

West Papuans demonstrate in Wamena, 10 December 2016

West Papuans demonstrate in Wamena, 10 December 2016 Photo: Islami/Jubi

According to reports from Indonesia's Papua region, the demonstration was organised by the West Papua National Committee, KNPB.

It was the latest in a series of large demonstrations by Papuans calling for a legitimate self-determination referendum.

The demonstrators had initially converged outside the local parliament building, but due to the huge crowd decamped to a central street in the Highlands town.

VIDEO CREDIT: Ronny Hisage

They were protesting about unaddressed human rights abuses, and reportedly signed a petition submitted to the Jayawijaya member of the House of Representatives.

The petitioners urged the Indonesian government to accept fact-finding missions by the UN and the Pacific Islands Forum.

Various ground reports put the number of demonstrators between six and eight thousand people.

The KNPB has been central to some of the biggest demonstrations in Papua this year, several of which resulted in mass arrests.

Papuan petition handed over to local representatives in Wamena on 10 December 2016

Papuan petition handed over to local representatives in Wamena on 10 December 2016 Photo: Tabloid Jubi

There were no reports of arrests at the Wamena demonstration, however police arrested nine Papuans at a demonstration to mark Human Rights Day in the capital of West Papua province, Manokwari.

There have been reports from the Indonesian city of Makassar that police blocked university students in their dormitory, preventing them from demonstrating.

This year has also seen an increase in demonstrations outside the Papua region by young people supporting West Papuan rights and self-determination aspirations.