Indonesian police arrested eight Papuan university students on charges of treason for raising the banned “Morning Star” flag at a demonstration for the independence of the West Papua region. The demonstration took place in Jayapura, capital of Papua province. The region, comprising the contemporary provinces of Papua and West Papua, was liberated from Dutch colonial rule on Dec, 1, 1963 now considered by Papuans to be their “independence day.” Following a UN-sanctioned referendum, the region fell under Indonesian rule in 1969. But an independence movement rejects the referendum as illegitimate, and has adopted the flag as a symbol of West Papuan sovereignty. Independence activist Felip Karma served an 11-year sentence for raising the outlawed flag. (Photo of Melbourne protest via Wikipedia)
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo was sworn in for a second term amid an official ban on protests, and Jakarta’s streets flooded with military troops. The inauguration was preceded by a wave of mass protests, led by students but joined by labor unions and radicalized anarchist youth. The demonstrations were sparked by a new law that weakens Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency, and another instating such moralistic measures as a ban on extramarital sex. But anger was also directed at plans for a tough new criminal code, at troops mobilized to put down unrest in Papua region, and failure to stem forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo now causing toxic haze across Southeast Asia. (Photo: Anarchist Communist Group)
Indonesian police have named human rights lawyer and prominent West Papua advocate Veronica Koman as a suspect in the spreading of “fake news,” accusing her of “incitement” in the widespread unrest that has swept the country’s easternmost region in recent weeks. Koman has been charged under Indonesia’s controversial cybercrime law, and faces up to six years in prison and a $70,000 fine if convicted. Police specifically mentioned Koman’s online posts of an incident in Java, in which army troops and nationalist militiamen were captured on video calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs.” Indonesian authorities have contacted Interpol to seek assistance in locating the Surabaya, who they believe is outside the country. Indonesia’s National Commission of Human Rights has assailed the move, saying Koman had merely attempted to provide “necessary information.” (Photo via The Guardian)
The Indonesian military and National Police are rushing hundreds of additional forces to the provinces of Papua and West Papua in an attempt to restore order amid a popular uprising in the region. The government has also shut internet access in the two provinces. Thousands of Papuans have taken to the streets in towns across Indonesia’s Papuan territories following a wave of mass arrests, police violence and attacks on Papuan students and activists. The repression was unleashed after an incident in Surabaya, Java, on the eve of Indonesia’s Independence Day, when Papuan students were accused of disrespecting the Indonesian flag. The repression has only sparked a general uprising in the Papuan territories, further fueling demands for independence. (Photo: Veronica Koman/Twitter via Peoples Dispatch)
Rebel groups seeking independence for Indonesia’s West Papua announced formation of a new united army under a single command. Three major factions have come together as the West Papua Army, under the political leadership of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). The ULMWP’s UK-exiled leader Benny Wenda appealed for international support: “We welcome any assistance in helping us achieve our liberation. The ULMWP is ready to form an independent West Papua. Politically and militarily we are united now. The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country. Indonesia cannot stigmatize us as separatists or criminals any more, we are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting.” (Photo via Radio New Zealand)
Nearly 2,000 were arrested by security forces in Indonesia's Papua province for "illegal" pro-independence demonstrations marking the end of Dutch colonial rule in 1963.
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Indonesia responded to UN recommendations to recognize the rights of its indigenous peoples by claiming that none live in the country—as massacres of tribal peoples continue.