Indonesia Papua Conflict | ACAPS

The Free Papua Movement has been leading an insurgency movement since the 1960s, which calls for the independence of Papua and West Papua provinces. The insurgency has long been an excuse for military involvement in Papua, with the Indonesian Government consistently accused of human rights violations and violent suppression of the movement. There have been reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detention, looting and burning of villages, and mistreatment of peaceful protesters. Indonesian security forces rarely face justice for abuses in Papua.?

In late April, the assassination of the head of the regional intelligence agency carried out by the West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA) led to the latest security operation, which included internet cutoffs, escalating clashes, and displacement. The Government has since designated the WPNLA as a ‘terrorist’ group.?

There was a violence increase in December 2018 after separatists killed 19 construction workers who were building the highly contentious Trans-Papua Highway in Nduga regency. Conflict also escalated in August 2019, when anti-racism protests and widespread violence erupted in the Papuan provinces following the detention and discriminatory treatment of 43 Papuan students on the island of Java. Indonesia implemented a heavy-handed response to the protests: 6,000 military personnel were deployed to the region, an internet slowdown was established, movement restrictions were put in place, and dozens of activists were detained. 42,000 indigenous Papuans were displaced by the conflict between December 2018–March 2020. The number of IDPs is usually difficult to verify; however, it is estimated to be up 60,000 to 100,000 people.  

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