Indonesia officials announced on Tuesday, August 20, that 258 inmates escaped from a prison in the city of Sorong (West Papua province) during violent protests the day before. The prison break occurred after protesters set fire to the jail and other buildings in the city. As of August 20, security forces are still searching for escaped inmates. According to military sources, an additional 300 personnel have deployed to Manokwari and other parts of West Papua to prevent further violence.
Around 500 people rallied again in Sorong on Tuesday, before being dispersed by police officers firing tear gas and water cannons. Similar demonstrations may be held across West Papua over the coming days amid a heavy police presence. Transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites.
Thousands of people took to the streets in West Papua province on August 19 after security forces stormed a university dormitory in Surabaya on August 17 and rounded up 43 students accused of desecrating the Indonesian flag. The students, who were reportedly subjected to racial abuse, were released from custody on August 18. Demonstrations were reported in Manokwari, Sorong, Jayapura, and other cities in the province.
Individuals in Indonesia are advised to remain vigilant and exercise caution when traveling to Papua and West Papua, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities (e.g. travel permits) and their home governments, and avoid all public demonstrations.
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