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‘200 Indonesians arrested’ ahead of pro-independence protest

19 December 2016 7:57

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Police in Indonesia have reportedly arrested at least 200 people ahead of an independence protest in the country’s restive province of West Papua.

A lawyer for Papuan independence activist Filep Karma said the people had been arrested over the past week after they applied to take part in the demonstration organized for Monday.

The protest is scheduled to mark the 55th anniversary of the official declaration of an Indonesian military campaign to take control of Papua from the Netherlands.

Karma said police also vandalized the headquarters of the pro-independence National Committee for West Papua in Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province, on Monday.

The resource-rich mountainous region has been the scene of tensions between Indonesian police and the indigenous Melanesians since being incorporated into Indonesia after a UN-backed referendum in 1969.

Despite being rich in natural resource, West Papua is one of the least-developed provinces in the country. The territory was a colony of the Netherlands from 1800 to 1949.

Papua and West Papua are home to more than 250 Melanesian ethnic groups, who have been struggling for independence.

Human rights groups accuse Indonesian police of committing abuse against the local Melanesian.

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