Jakarta – The Indonesian government has sent 2,500 police officers and soldiers to Papua province as unrest in the region sparked by alleged racist treatment of Papuans show no signs of abating, a police spokesman said yesterday.
The reinforcements will be deployed in the regional capital Jayapura, where tensions between indigenous Papuans and migrants from other parts of the country have been rising since violence last Thursday. "They are tasked with restoring order and guarding vital facilities," national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.
Last Thursday, protesters torched government buildings and a shopping centre in Jayapura, prompting police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets.
A day earlier, a soldier and two civilians were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters in the region's Deiyai district, the authorities said, while activists said that seven civilians were killed.
The anti-government protests began on Aug 19, following perceived heavy-handed and racist treatment of Papuan students by security forces on the main island of Java.
The central government has imposed an Internet blackout since Aug 21 in an attempt to restore order in the region after mobs set fire to buildings during protests involving thousands of people in the neighbouring province of West Papua, where an additional 1,500 police officers and soldiers have also been deployed.
On Aug 17, police forced their way into a Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, and briefly detained 43 students for allegedly desecrating an Indonesian flag.