Tag: Papua

Hundreds escape from West Papua prison during rioting

 At least 258 inmates escaped from a prison in Indonesia’s West Papua province during a rally against the treatment of Papuan students on the main island of Java, an official said Tuesday.

Thousands of people marched in West Papua on Monday and set fire to several government buildings in response to a crackdown on Papuan students in East Java who were protesting for self-determination for their homeland on Friday. 

Prisoners at the state penitentiary in Sorong city, which held 547 inmates, rioted and set parts of the building ablaze after they were provoked by protesters, said the director general of corrections, Ade Kusumanto. 

The demonstrators tore down an outer wall and escaped, he said. 

“The protesters threw rocks at the prison, causing the prioners to riot and attack guards,” Ade said, adding that one guard was injured in the fray. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for calm on Monday, saying that the government respects Papuans’ dignity and is committed to their welfare. 

Police arrested dozens of the Papuan protesters during the rally in East Java but later released them. 

Papuan activists said they were subjected to harsh treatment and racist abuse. 

Indonesian security forces have intensified operations in Papua  after separatist rebels killed about two dozen construction workers building a road in December. 

Separatists have fought for independence for the region since the 1960s. 

Papua and West Papua provinces make up the Indonesian half of New Guinea island.  

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50 killed in Papua flash floods, landslides

At least 50 people were killed after flash floods and landslides hit the capital of Indonesia’s Papua province, officials said Sunday.

“There are 50 bodies at the hospital as a result of floods and landslides,” Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said. 

Waters began inundating nine villages in Papua’s capital Jayapura late Saturday following heavy rain, said National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho. 

More than 150 houses were submerged in the Sentani area, he added. 

A video released by the disaster agency showed a Twin Otter plane damaged after being swept away by floodwaters.

Sutopo said the scale of damage was still being assessed, but that waters had largely receded. 

“Rescue and recovery efforts are still being carried out while aid is being distributed,” he said.  

Papua police apologise for using snake during interrogation

Police in Indonesia’s Papua province have apologised after interrogators used a snake during an attempt to extract a confession from a suspected mobile phone thief, a spokesman said Monday. 

A video circulating online showed police in Jayawijaya district wrapping a snake around the neck of the suspect as they questioned him. 

A policeman could be heard asking the suspect: “How many times have you stolen a cellphone?”.

The man cowered and screamed in fear.  

“Many people saw his action but he didn’t confess, and that made the officer angry,” Papuan police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said.  

“The method is wrong and we have apologized,” he said, adding that one officer had been disciplined.  

Suryadi said the snake was tame and had been kept as a pet at the Jayawijaya police station for some time to scare drunkards, who often caused trouble in the neighbourhood. 

“They usually fled after they saw the snake,” he said. 

A lawyer who advocates for human rights in Papua, Veronica Koman, said police often used snakes while interrogating Papuans, including those arrested for suspected separatist activities.

“Inhumane treatment against Papuans is regularly reported,” Koman said.

“When this snake video surfaced, many Papuans, particularly activists who have been in and out of jail for political reasons, said that they have long known that snakes are being used by police and military,” she said.

A low-level separatist conflict has been taking place in Papua, a predominantly-Melanesian region, since the 1960s.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuses while conducting counter-insurgency operations. 

One person missing, buildings damaged after Papua quake

One person was missing and several buildings damaged after a magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province on Tuesday, an official from the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said.

The quake was felt strongly for four seconds by residents in Papua, prompting them to rush out of their homes, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).

Two houses, a warehouse and a hospital suffered minor damage while a person was missing after being swept away by a river, Sutopo said. He said information from isolated areas in jungle-clad Papua was still being sought.

The Metereology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency said the quake struck at 4.41 am with the epicentre 75 kilometres south-east of Memberamo Tengah regency.

No tsunami warning was issued after the quake.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes as it sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire.” A massive earthquake off Sumatra island in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in a dozen countries, mostly in the Indonesia’s Aceh province.