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Nine shot dead in Papua’s highlands after Indonesia moves to ‘divide-and-rule’ region, Amnesty International lawyer says

July 16, 2022

Nine shot dead in Papua’s highlands after Indonesia moves to ‘divide-and-rule’ region, Amnesty International lawyer says

Posted 30m ago30 minutes ago, updated 11m ago

West Papua’s Melanesian allies in the Pacific have also called for Australia to do more.(AP: Dita Alangkara)

Nine people have been shot dead in Indonesia’s easternmost region of Papua in an attack police say was carried out by armed separatists.

Authorities in the provincial capital of Jayapura said the incident took place on Saturday morning in the remote highland area of Nduga.

"It’s true there was an attack on civilians that resulted in 10 [people sustaining] gunshot wounds, nine of whom died," director of criminal investigations Faizal Rahmadani said.

Authorities were investigating the incident but had prioritised evacuated civilians, he said.

Reuters could not immediately reach the Papua police spokesperson for comment.

It comes days after protests about a new law that will see the region divided from two into five provinces, with the addition of South Papua, Central Papua and Highland Papua provinces.

The government said the new administrative regions would accelerate development, improve the delivery of public services and create more opportunities for Papuans to join the civil service.

But critics said the move would give Jakarta more power over the far-flung, resource-rich region, where a battle for independence has been waged since the area became part of Indonesia after a controversial United Nations-supervised vote in 1969.

Indonesian human rights lawyer with Amnesty International Australia, Veronica Koman, said the move has been widely rejected by Papuans.

"Jakarta’s divide-and-rule strategy was opposed across the board in Papua …. Papuans are concerned that more non-Indigenous Papuans will arrive, further marginalising them in their own land," she said

"It is likely Papuan armed fighters today sent a message that more non-Indigenous Papuans are not welcome."

The West Papua Liberation Army, which the government designated as a terrorist organisation, had rejected the administrative carve-up, threatening to shoot dead any officials involved.

A report by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict said the West Papua Liberation Army had "unleashed an unprecedented level of violence in Papua" since its "Declaration of War" in 2018, mainly driven by the group’s ability to acquire more weapons.

Papuan separatist fighters have become more strategic in their attacks, the report said, by actively engaging Indonesian security forces in battle and increasing their attacks against civilians.


Posted 30m ago30 minutes ago, updated 11m ago11 minutes ago

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