West Papuan Protests: Indonesian President Joko Widodo Calls for Peace
Asia, News

West Papuan Protests: Indonesian President Joko Widodo Calls for Peace 

Amid the violent West Papuan protests in Indonesia that left the entire country in a questionable state, the Indonesian President Joko Widodo has asked the citizens to calm down. He even asked them to forgive each other, while resorting to peace.

The citizens’ anger grew wide with mass arrests of Papuan students in Indonesian city of Surabaya on Independence Day. The move further resulted in days of violent protests against and by ethnic West Papuans. Shredding more light on the entire scenario, the Papuan activists said that the police arrested more than 40 students for allegedly damaging an Indonesian flag, which was found in a gutter near the dormitory building.

The news of the flag being disrespected attracted huge crowd through social media platforms, raising threats and insecurities for dormitory students. The students were released after cross-questioning.

The mob outside the dorm along with anti-Papuan slogans resorted to violence. Widodo, who promised to look after the “honour and welfare of all people in Papua and West Papua”, urged people to forgive each other “as fellow countrymen”.

Joko Widodo said, “My brothers and sisters in Papua and West Papua, I know you feel offended. It’s okay to be emotional, but it’s better to be forgiving. Patience is also better.”

The wave of West Papuan protests against racist abuse, alleged harassment and police brutality committed against ethnic Papuan students brought thousands of people to the streets of provincial capital Manokwari. On Monday, the protestors, while blocking the streets, set the legislative council building, trees and stores on fire.

The Papua Governor claimed that Monday’s protest was a result of racist words by East Java people. While the Governor of East Java apologised for the behaviour of the mob, saying it “does not represent the voice of the people of East Java”.

As the number of death and injurers remain a mystery, the entire scenario mounted huge pressure on the Papuan government. Some have called the protests a result of the separatist movement that has been dormant since decades in Indonesia’s eastern most provinces, Papua and West Papua.

Since the Indonesian government had restricted internet access in the West Papua region, many leaders have demanded an investigation to reach the depth of West Papuan protests. While believing Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s comments of looking after the welfare of the West Papuan citizens, governor of Papua province demanded an end to the racist treatment of Papuans across Indonesia, upholding nationalism and unity amongst all.

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