There have been more demonstrations in Indonesia’s Papua region today, in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
Over a thousand demonstrators gathered in the Papua provincial capital Jayapura to express their support for the Liberation Movement and its bid for full membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
In the past month and a half there’s been a series of large, peaceful demonstrations in most Papuan urban centres in support of the Liberation Movement.
The largest and most widespread demonstrations occurred on May 2nd when police arrested around two thousand people in Jayapura alone.
The demos have mainly been organised by the West Papua National Committee which is part of the Liberation Movement.
Today’s demonstrations also included large gatherings in Manokwari, Fakfak and Wamena, one of Papua’s major Highlands towns.
Initial reports from Wamena indicate a large police and military forces presence, with police shooting two demonstrators.
Local people have reported that they had no access to Wamena hospital as the security forces have blocked it off.
Police reported that a Papuan who has been on their wanted list, Kelenak Telenggen, was one of the people shot.
Back in Jayapura, police stopped the demonstration moving from Waena to Abepura while in nearby Sentani they detained 33 members of the West Papua National Committee.
Earlier, BBC Indonesia reported that a hundred West Papuans had been arrested in Jayapura and Wamena in the past few days for handing out flyers calling for people to join today’s demonstrations.
As well as showing support for the Liberation Movement’s MSG membership, the demonstrations have been another clear expression of independence aspirations among West Papuans.
However, a police spokesman indicated that security forces would not tolerate freedom of expression in public where it involved promoting the idea of independence for Papua.
Staff at Papua’s Cenderawasih University are reportedly striking over a continued blockade of the campus at Abepura.
The Jakarta Post quotes the university director, Onesimus Sahuleka, as saying the strike is a protest against the students who have been frequently blocking the campus.
The students are demanding that the campus extend the enrolment period and ensure that 80 percent of the places available are assigned to Papuans.
He praised the students’ aspirations but urged them to not disturb teaching and learning activities at the campus.
Onesimus said the enrolment period oculd not be extended because registration happens online and across Indonesia.