2019 Papua protests

2019 Papua protests
Part of the Papua conflict
Sarmi Protests Long March.jpg
Protesters marching in Sarmi Regency
Date19 August 2019 – ongoing
(3 weeks and 6 days)
Location
Various cities and towns across Papua and West Papua provinces, smaller rallies across other Indonesian cities
Caused by
GoalsPapuan Independence
Status
  • Internet in Papua shut down by Indonesian authorities
  • Indonesian government rejects calls for independence referendum
  • Protests continue despite government ban[1]
Parties to the civil conflict
Free Papua Movement
Papuan students
Casualties
5[2]–7[3] dead
1 dead[4]

A series of protests by Papuans in Indonesia began on 19 August 2019. They mainly took place across Indonesian Papua, in response to the arrests of 43 Papuan students in Surabaya for alleged disrespect of the Indonesian flag.

In several locations, notably Jayapura, Sorong, Fakfak, Timika and Manokwari, protests turned violent, with various private buildings and public facilities damaged or burned. A Reuters reporter from its Jakarta bureau described the unrest as Papua's most serious in years.[5]

Background

Map of Indonesian Papua, comprised by the present provinces of West Papua and Papua.

As a successor state of the Dutch East Indies, Indonesia claimed all of the Dutch colonial territories in the Malay Archipelago, including Papua, formerly known as Netherlands New Guinea. Papua was formally annexed by Indonesia in 1969 following the controversial "Act of Free Choice". In the years that followed, a low-intensity insurgency has occurred across the region. After December 2018, tens of thousands of civilians around Nduga Regency were displaced following increased military presence and fighting with separatist fighters due to a massacre of workers constructing the Trans-Papua Highway. In an attempt to reduce tensions in the region, the Indonesian government granted increased autonomy to provinces comprising the region, with sitting president Joko Widodo (Jokowi) visiting the region six times since he was sworn into office in 2014.[6]