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Thursday 3 December 2015 | Published in Regional


JAYAPURA – A West Papua independence activist says scores of people have been arrested and one person was shot dead by Indonesian police in Papua this week for commemorating its independence day on Tuesday.

Thousands of people across the world took part in demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the region’s declaration of independence in 1961, when the Morning Star flag (pictured) was first raised.

When Indonesia took control of the region two years later, it banned the flag.

Benny Wenda says he’s had reports many people were arrested, beaten and intimidated across West Papua for marking the day.

“In West Papua, in Serui, a person was shot dead by Indonesian police and two were critically injured. And some of the members also beat them up.

“In Nabire a few days before, about 32 people were arrested, just preparing for celebrations for the December 1 celebrations.

“I got reports a number of intimidation’s, harassment by Indonesian military and police. And also in Jayapura, KNPB (Komite Nasional Papua Barat or National Committee for West Papua) community national compound in Abepura and Jayapura it is surrounded by military, heavily militarised, not police, ordinary police, but military.

“And just middle of the city, it’s like a war is going on in West Papua. And this year alone heavily militarised and every corner, every street. I just received phone calls everywhere. This year really almost every corner in West Papua the military was building up.”

Wenda said many people were arrested across Papua for joining in on the demonstration or to watch the raising of the Morning Star flag.

“Also I heard there are a few journalists, Al Jazeera and some of the journalists, have been arrested. And beat them up. This journalist just covering the situation in West Papua and some places and they beat him up, by police.

“So that’s what I got information from my people back home. But I don’t know every detail and also they deleted the picture and video from their camera.

Wenda said in the past people have been sentenced to 15 year in jail for raising the flag.

- Dateline Pacific