Four critically ill after rallies and election protests in West Papua PDF Afdrukken

Four tribal Papuans are critically ill in hospital after police opened fire on demonstrators, injuring 11, at a rally on Monday in the West Papuan city of Nabire.

Demonstrators were calling for a boycott of today’s general election and for a referendum on the future of West Papua. They were also celebrating the launch in the US of the group ‘International Lawyers for West Papua’.

News is still emerging, but local people say the police fired shots into the crowd and at passers by. The police deny this, claiming they fired warning shots after an arrow injured one of their officers.  

One of the critically injured is said to be a 10-year-old who was shot whilst returning from school. Sources say at least six others who were shot were not taking part in the demonstration. Witnesses spoke of Indonesian intelligence forces hiding in buildings and firing at passers by.

Monday’s protest was a follow up to wide-ranging demonstrations that took place in Nabire and in the highland town of Wamena in West Papua last Friday, despite prohibitions from the police.  Organisers in Nabire said that more than 15,000 attended the peaceful protests.

The police are still holding six people following arrests before the protests on Friday and Monday. Survival is concerned for the safety of those in police custody, and for the safety of others who stand up for the rights of the tribal peoples of West Papua.

Survival is calling for a full independent investigation into the police handling of this and other demonstrations in West Papua. Any police officers found to have used excessive force should be brought to justice.

Breaking news: It has been reported that six people were killed today in a separate incident before polling stations opened.