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West Papuans Clamor for Justice After Indonesian Police Kill Young Protesters

West Papuan students in Java held a protest last month to condemn the killing of Papuan children by the Indonesian police. Photo from Facebook page of Free West Papua Campaign.

West Papuan students in Java held a protest last month to condemn the killing of Papuan children by the Indonesian police. Photo from Facebook page of Free West Papua Campaign.

West Papua activists and independence advocates are demanding justice for the killing of young civilians by the Indonesian police last month.

On December 8, 2014, Indonesian security forces allegedly opened fire on about 800 peaceful demonstrators, including women and children in Paniai district. The protest was in reaction to a report that police beat several Papua children the previous night. Five protesters were killed and at least 17 others were injured, according to a report from Human Rights Watch, which explained that human rights abuses are not uncommon there:

The December 8 shootings are emblematic of the routine human rights abuses that security forces carry out with impunity in Papua, in the extreme eastern of the Indonesian archipelago. Over the last 15 years, Human Rights Watch has documented hundreds of cases in which police, military, intelligence officers, and prison guards have used unnecessary or excessive force when dealing with Papuans taking part in protests. While a handful of military tribunals have been held in Papua for security force personnel implicated in abuses, the charges have been inadequate and soldiers who committed abuses continue to serve.

The annexation of West Papua, a mineral-rich and ancient Melanesia country, by Indonesia's military regime in the 1960s has caused displacement, hardship and death for the indigenous population. Yet despite the blatant human rights abuses and institutionalized distilling of the local culture, the colonizing forces have failed to dampen the spirit of self-determination and independence among the people.

Benny Wenda, who is a West Papuan independence leader and living in exile in the United Kingdom, condemned the killing of civilians:

On his website, Wenda accused the Indonesian armed forces of committing brutality in Timika, West Papua:

I am appalled that such police barbarism can go ahead unnoticed against innocent and defenseless people, especially at such close proximity to the world’s largest goldmine, Indonesia’s biggest taxpayer.

On Twitter, several commented about the suffering of West Papua residents:

The Indonesian government has vowed to investigate the killings. A human rights probe will also release a report in relation to the incident.

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