Indonesian government has arrested 34 people during the four days' riot in Papua and West Papua - Photo by VOA Indonesia

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Indonesian government has arrested 34 people during the four days’ riot in Papua and West Papua. Yesterday, antiracism protest continued in Papua for the fourth consecutive day amid the blackout internet access.

On Thursday (08/22), thousands of people rallied in front of the Regional Legislative Council building in Nabire regency in response to the verbal and physical abuse suffered by Papuan students in East Java over the weekend.

Papua Governor Lukas Enembe stated Papuans were angry because of “the extremely racist words by East Java people, the police and military.

At the same day, President Joko Widodo ordered National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian to crack down on perpetrators of racial and ethnic discrimination followed the situation in Papua. Head of State also said he would invite leaders from Papua and West Papua to the Palace next week.

Based on reports from Karnavian, Army Chief’ Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto who was in Papua, he said, the level of security in Papua had now been lowered.

Since Monday, national police have flown in 1,200 more officers to quell sometimes violent protests in towns such as Manokwari, Sorong, Fakfak and the city near to the giant Grasberg mine operated by PT Freeport Indonesia.

“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 on Monday (08/19).

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.

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.

He added, the 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.

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

Reportedly, more than 20 cases have occurred since 2014 to November 2018. Throughout 2017, armed violence has killed three Indonesian officers and two people from armed groups. In that year, there were nine cases recorded by media coverage.

The following year, the number of victims swelled. Four civilian victims and three Indonesian officers were recorded. The casualties emerged from seven cases that occurred until November 2018. The data did not include an incident in Nduga that happened to Trans Papua development workers.

During 2014 to November 2018, at least 15 civilians and 14 Indonesian officials were killed in various incidents of armed violence. Aliansi Demokrasi for Papua (AIDP) requires the government to immediately resolve this issue through an investigation so that conflict resolution can be intact.

Chairperson of AIDP, Latifah Anum, explained that the condition of the community in Nduga had started to get hot after the election of the Governor in 2018. The conflict that has not yet reached clarity has caused a number of other events.

If there is no complete resolution and delivery of information, according to Anum, what happens is just banging each other’s words without clear arguments or data. Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Philip Vermonte conveyed the same thing. Philip stressed the importance of full investigation to resolve problems in Papua.

“There are issues that can be resolved actually, but chosen not to be resolved, causing a pile of problems,” he said.

Vermonte considered that there were indeed many Papuan problems that needed to be resolved, starting from historical rectification, a number of human rights violations that were still ongoing, until the latter was the case in Nduga, which killed dozens of Trans Papua workers.

by Linda Silaen, Email: linda.silaen@theinsiderstories.com