Four Shot In Indonesian Papua Election Protests: Activist

Four Shot In Indonesian Papua Election Protests: Activist


JAKARTA -- At least four people were wounded when police opened fire on a protest in Indonesia's remote Papua region on Monday, demanding independence and a boycott of elections, an activist said.

The protesters were shot when police fired into a crowd of around 200 indigenous Papuans rallying in the streets of Nabire town in West Papua province, Catholic Church activist Yones Douw told AFP.

"The people didn't react or throw anything but Brimob (paramilitary police) attacked them," Douw said, adding that the four injured were in "critical" condition in hospital.

Three other protesters were hit with rubber bullets and one woman was arrested at the rally, which followed a dawn raid on an office being used by activists in which 15 people were arrested, Douw said.

One person was also shot and hurt by police in the raid, but it was unclear if he was shot with a rubber bullet or a live round, he said.

Local police chief Rinto Jatmono refused to confirm the shootings but acknowledged the earlier arrest of pro-independence activists.

"We arrested the 15 people in connection with subversion," Jatmono said.

Meanwhile, around 300 people rallied peacefully in Jayapura, the capital of neighbouring Papua province, to call for a boycott of national legislative elections on Thursday.

The crowd chanted "boycott the election" and called for the release of 17 activists arrested last week in a raid on the headquarters of the Papuan Customary Council, the top cultural representative body for Papuan tribes.

Pro-independence sentiment runs high in Papua, which sits on the western end of New Guinea island and is populated mainly by the Melanesian ethnic minority.

Indonesia took formal control of the region in a 1969 UN-sponsored vote by select tribal elders widely seen as a sham and the area has seen a long-running insurgency by poorly armed pro-independence guerrillas.