West Papua Parliament Building was burnt down by protesters - Photo: Kompas

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Indonesian police and military personnel are on alert following the increasing tension in Manokwari, West Papua. The negotiation process is hampered considering the mass remains violent. When the officials met with the protesters, several demonstrators threw them stones. As a result, negotiations must be postponed.

“We have on alert. Negotiations are still ongoing. They directly meet the protesters. The team must retreat to calm down the situation so that the mass will be calmer. The negotiations will be resumed after the situation turns to conducive,” said National Police spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo in Jakarta today (08/19).

He adds the police chief, military commander, and deputy governor will later face the protesters again long with Manokwari community figures.

National Police suspected the mass riot in Manokwari is allegedly triggered by provocation on social media regarding the raid in a Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya.

“They are provoked by contents circulated on social media platforms about the incident in Surabaya,” Prasetyo adds.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Tjahjo Kumolo called on all state civil servants in Papua to continue working. He appealed for them not to take to the streets and protest.

“We ask civil servants not to demonstrate. They must work at every level. According to the work schedule to serve the community,” he told the media.

Kumolo made sure it continued to serve the community. Elements of regional government in Papua are responsible for ensuring that community services continue to run.

“We have contacted the regional government. Serving the community must not stop. The entire provincial, city and regency apparatus, roads. Up to the sub-district and district levels, roads. There are no problems,” the minister adds.

Protesters in Manokwari West Papua province set fire to tires and torched a local parliament building after a demonstration against the recent detention of scores of Papuan students, local media has reported today.

The spark for the latest anger appears to have been the detention of scores of Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, for bending a flagpole in front of a dormitory during the celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day on Aug. 17, according to Papuan activists as reported by Kompas Tv.

Police fired tear gas into the dormitory before arresting 43, with officers calling the students “monkeys” during the operation, Albert Mungguar, one of the activists said at a news conference on Sunday.

On Monday morning, Papuan protesters set fire to a local parliament building and blocked streets in the provincial capital of West Papua, Manokwari, by burning tires and tree branches, Deputy Governor Mohamad Lakotani said.

“The city center, market, the port is next to the parliament building, as well as shopping centers. Everything’s affected. Practically, the whole city is not running, if not to say completely paralyzed,” Lakotani told Kompas TV.

Lakotani said regional leaders were currently trying to negotiate with the activity leaders. He has coordinated with the local police and army commander to meet with mass leaders so that the situation can be calm.

Television footage showed a group of about 150 people marching on the streets in Manokwari, as well as footage of smoke billowing from a parliament building.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said Papuans were angry because of “the extremely racist words by East Java people, the police and military”, he told broadcaster TVone.

A separatist movement has simmered for decades in Papua, while there have also been frequent complaints of rights abuses by Indonesian security forces.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said security personnel was trying to calm the situation.

“Negotiations and communication are ongoing. Generally, the situation is under control,” Prasetyo, who is based in Jakarta, told Kompas Tv.

A separate, peaceful protest of about 500 people was also underway in the town of Jayapura, the capital of Papua province, Papua police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said to Kompas Tv.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com