Several deaths and many injured . . .
Authorities have confirmed that several people were killed and dozens critically injured following a new wave of violent clashes between student protesters and police forces today in Jayapura, the provincial capital of Indonesia's Papua province. The final number of fatalities is still unknown, but media report that at least 16 students and one police officer have been killed. This new clash between joint police-military forces and students followed a rally organized by the Papuan Student Alliance at Cenderawasih University that turned violent when authorities ordered students to move their demonstration off campus.
A test for President Joko Widodo . . .
The recent violence in the West Papua region will be a major test for President Joko Widodo. Re-elected with strong support from this region, Joko Widodo now has to deliver on his electoral promises to not only bring economic growth, jobs, and better internet to the region, but also to provide Papuans with greater autonomy. Papuan grievances against Indonesian authorities range from lack of autonomy and economic injustice to racism and violations of human rights that date back to the region’s incorporation into Indonesia that followed a controversial referendum in 1969.
Tackling the root of the problem . . .
Following deadly violence in the region in August, Human Rights Watch has called for an impartial investigation into the role of police and military forces and an end to restrictions imposed on the region. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concerns about the violence and has urged the Indonesian government “to engage in dialogue with the people of Papua and West Papua on their aspirations and concerns.” If the situation in Papua were to be raised by Pacific Islands leaders at the UN General Assembly this week, a meaningful dialogue between Papua’s leaders and Jakarta would do well to begin with a conversation about tackling racism, the root of recent civil unrest in the region.
- Al Jazeera: At least 20 dead in protests in Indonesia's West Papua
- Al Jazeera: West Papua unrest tests Indonesia's Jokowi as second term begins
- The Diplomat: Why is West Papua in Constant Turmoil?