JAKARTA – Dozens of West Papuan activists faced off with police in Jakarta on Thursday morning as they protested for the remote region’s independence.
Around 100 protesters joined the rally, organized to voice demands for West Papua’s independence from Indonesia, which currently administers the mineral-rich region.
Participants – many wearing headbands featuring the West Papuan flag – chanted “free Papua” as they marched towards the presidential palace in the Indonesian capital, an epa journalist on the scene reported.
However, clashes broke out after the group was blocked by police, who fired water cannons and dragged several protesters into waiting vans.
No one appears to have been seriously injured in the clashes, and the demonstrators eventually agreed to end the protest.
Indonesia has long been accused of human rights abuses in West Papua, an area it officially acquired in 1969.
Allegations include security force violence, and restrictions on media freedom and rights monitoring, according to Human Rights Watch.
Many separatists, who say the remote area is ethnically and culturally distinct from Indonesia, view Dec. 1 as the anniversary of what should have been their independence.
The Free West Papua Campaign has dubbed this year the “biggest global day of action for West Papua so far.”