Pacific / West Papua

Restoration of internet in Papua to be gradual, says Jakarta

19:01 pm on 5 September 2019

Restoration of internet networks in Papua will be gradual, Indonesia's government says.

Protesters in Jakarta. Photo: Supplied

The government cut internet access in Papua two weeks ago in what it billed as a move to stop the spread of disinformation during ongoing protests in the region.

But the Minister of Communication and Information has now revealed the block has been partially lifted.

Rudiantara said internet data services would be gradually restored in Papuan cities and districts according to their security situations.

It had to be a gradual process in order to stop the spread of hoax news and provocative messages, he said.

Rudiantara claimed that as of Monday, the ministry had detected over a half a million URLs or channels used to spread hoax reports.

Yesterday, the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet called for Indonesia to restore internet services in Papua.

She said internet shutdowns were likely to contravene the freedom of expression, and that limiting communications may exacerbate tensions.


Amnesty International said Indonesia was cracking down on West Papuan activists during the protests.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman. Photo: Whens Tebay

Police have charged six activists with treason for their role in organising a pro-independence rally in Jakarta last week.

On Wednesday, human rights lawyer Veronica Koman was named as a criminal suspect for allegedly spreading fake news online.

Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Papang Hindayat said activists were being made scapegoats for the unrest.

"There's no need to prove the intention to do violence, so it's a general pattern of the failure of Indonesian authorities, in particular, the Indonesian security forces, to differentiate the peaceful political activism and acts of violence," he said.

Police should drop all charges against the activists and action against Ms Koman, Mr Hindayat said.

The case against Ms Koman was intended to limit awareness of abuses in West Papua because her posts on Twitter, shared mostly in English, had "opened up a door to the international community", he said.