JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - At least one Indonesian soldier and two civilians were killed Wednesday in a violent protest in the country’s restive Papua region, police said.
National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said a peaceful protest by 150 people against racism at the Deiyai district chief’s office turned violent when more than a thousand others tried to storm the building with arrows and machetes.
Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto said in a statement that security forces managed to restore order and found two protesters had been injured, one with an arrow piercing his stomach and the other shot in the leg. Both died at a nearby hospital. A soldier died at the scene and five police and military personnel were injured, mostly by arrows.
A number of violent protests have roiled Papua since last week, triggered by videos circulated on the internet showing security forces calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs” in East Java’s Surabaya city.
A group of 50 Papuan students in the capital, Jakarta, staged a second protest on Wednesday and called for independence for Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.
Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot that was seen as a sham by many. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua.
In recent years, some Papua students, including some who study in other provinces, have become vocal in calling for self-determination for their region.
Protests in several cities in Papua and West Papua provinces have turned violent over the past week, but Prasetyo said the situation is now under control and activities have returned to normal in recent days. However, the government has blocked internet access in the region since last week to “accelerate the process of restoring security and order in Papua and its surrounding areas,” he said.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.