Indonesian officials confirmed on the evening (local time) of Monday, September 23, that at least 20 people were killed and another 65 wounded during violent protests in Papua province earlier in the day. In Wamena, demonstrators reportedly set fire to homes, a government office, and other buildings. Wamena Airport (WMX) was also closed and over 20 flights were canceled as a precaution. Clashes between protesters and security forces also occurred in Jayapura. According to government officials, security forces are taking steps to prevent riots from spreading.
Similar demonstrations may be held across Papua and West Papua in the coming days amid a heightened police presence. Transportation, business, and communication disruptions are to be expected. Clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
Demonstrations in Papua and West Papua began after security forces stormed a university dormitory in Surabaya on August 17, rounding 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. Thousands of people have participated in the protests, which have been held 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, prepare for continuing telecommunication disruptions and avoid all public demonstrations.
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