Jayapura. Dozens of people have been injured after Indonesian security forces pistol whipped or beat protesters with rattan canes and batons during a peaceful protest against Indonesian rule in Papua on Wednesday.
There are as yet no reports of deaths after security forces, including the Indonesian Military (TNI), opened fire during the Papuan Peoples’ Congress in Jayapura. The number of injured cannot be confirmed.
Journalists were among those beaten, including at least one cameraman as he attempted to film the chaos.
Police, meanwhile, confirmed they had made dozens of arrests after a group of Papuan leaders declared independence and raised the Morning Star flag.
Papuan Customary Council chairman Forkorus Yaboisembut, who proclaimed himself president of a “free Papua,” and Edison Waromi, the prime minister, were among those detained, Papuan Police spokesman Wachyono told the Jakarta Globe.
Markus Haluk, a member of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP) that attended the congress, told the Globe that Forkorus and Edison had been elected to their positions during the congress.
He said that not long after the independence declaration was made, police fired shots into the air, causing widespread panic.
“The Indonesian government should learn that shooting will not solve the problem,” he said.
Wachyono said Forkorus and Edison had been “secured” for breaching the permit for the three-day congress, which was due to close on Wednesday.
“On the first day they raised the Morning Star flag and on the closing day they declared independence for Papua,” he said, adding the actions contravened the permit.
He said the suspects faced possible treason charges.