19 Sep 2016

More arrests of Papuans planning to rally

4:33 pm on 19 September 2016

Indonesian police in Papua region have made more arrests of people planning to rally in support of international advocacy for West Papuans.

Indonesian police at a demonstration in the Papuan region

Indonesian police at a demonstration in the Papuan region (file photo) Photo: Supplied / Whens Tebay

Over the weekend 21 members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested by police in Yakuhimo regency as they distributed leaflets about a planned peaceful rally to be held today.

KNPB chairman Victor Yeimo said the rally was to show support for the Pacific countries who were members of the Pacific Islands Coalition on West Papua.

The coalition plans to raise issues of human rights abuses in West Papua, and Papuans' self-determination struggle, at the United Nations General Assembly.

Local media reported over 200 people protested outside the local police station at the arrests.

One protester was taken to hospital after reportedly being hit by a police officer.

The West Papua National Committee chairman Victor Yeimo addressed the demonstration in the Papuan provincial capital, Jayapura.

West Papua National Committee chairman Victor Yeimo addresses the demonstration in the Papuan provincial capital, Jayapura. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

This year has seen a series of public demonstrations by West Papuans in support of various international representations on their plight.

These include several large peaceful rallies in May and June in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua in its bid to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

These public mobilisations by Papuans have been mainly peaceful, but have resulted in mass arrests in some instances.

The most widespread demonstrations occurred on 2 May when police arrested almost 2000 people in Jayapura alone.

The rallies, most of which were organised by the KNPB, also voiced support for the major International Parliamentarians for West Papua summit in London.

Demonstration in support of the United Liberation Movement April for west Papua, Jayapura, 13 April, 2016.

A demonstration in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua in Jayapura on 13 April. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

At the summit, this network of politicians from around the world who support self-determination for West Papuans issued a declaration calling for an internationally-supervised vote on independence in West Papua.

In response, Jakarta sent a high-level delegation to the United Kingdom to explain its side of the story to British MPs involved in the summit, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Papua's police chief, General Paulus Waterpauw, has explained that authorities will not tolerate public demonstrations of aspirations for separation from Indonesia.

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