Pacific / West Papua

Treason charges against West Papuans must be dropped - Amnesty

14:54 pm on 4 September 2019

Amnesty International is calling on Indonesia to drop treason charges against six West Papuan activists.

Protesters in Papua's Jayapura. Photo: Whens Tebay

Their arrests came during a wave of anti-racism protests and pro-independence demonstrations by Papuans which have rocked Indonesia for the past two weeks.

The activists were arrested on Friday and Saturday for their role in organising a pro-independence demo in Jakarta last week.

Amnesty International Indonesia said the six activists were peacefully protesting and must be released without conditions.

The rights group says Indonesia should revoke or amend treason laws, so they can't be used to criminalise free speech.

On Monday, Indonesian police banned protests and separatist speeches in Papua and West Papua provinces.

Dozens of Papuans have been arrested and at least 10 people have been killed during the unrest.

Church says nine killed in Central Highlands

Meanwhile, a Catholic church in West Papua said nine people died in a clash between state forces and protestors in the Central Highlands last week.

According to police, five civilians and one soldier died in Deiyai regency when violent protestors attacked security personnel.

But activists and local media say during the 28 August incident, police and military opened fire on Papuans who had converged peacefully at the local regent's office.

A report released on Tuesday by the Catholic church in Timika said eight civilians died of gunshots and one soldier was killed.

The report, cited by the the news site Suara Papua, said 39 people were injured by gunshot wounds.

A government-imposed internet blackout across Papua and reported restrictions on some phone networks, including near Deiyai, has made verifying information difficult.