Page last updated at 05:29 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Reporters on Papua protests freed

Pro independence protests, Jayapura, West Papua Indonesia 24 Mar 09
Independence activists in West Papua, Indonesia, want a referendum

Four Dutch journalists have been freed by police in Indonesia's West Papua.

They had been covering pro-independence protests and the return of independence leader, Nicholas Jouwe, after 40 years of exile in the Netherlands.

Formerly called Irian Jaya, the region was incorporated into Indonesia after Dutch rule, in 1969, in a process seen by tribal leaders as a sham.

Indonesian authorities keep a tight grip on the province, and on media coverage of it.

Indonesian police chief Bagus Eko Danto said the journalists did not have a permit to cover the protests.

"Nicholas Jouwe's group had already left the area in the morning but they also covered the rally, despite not having permits," he said.

The four journalists included the NRC Handelsblad newspaper's Jakarta correspondent Elske Schouten and three documentary makers.

Referendum call

On Tuesday, about 1,000 protesters marched on the provincial parliament to call for a boycott of national elections, scheduled for 9 April.

Surrounded by a heavy police presence, they demanded a referendum on independence.

The protesters chanted "Free Papua" and "Boycott the election" and carried banners calling for an end to Jakarta's heavy-handed military presence in the region.

The 85-year-old Nicholas Jouwe arrived in Indonesia last week, calling for peace between the Indonesian government and Papuans during a meeting with Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie.

Sporadic protests and regular security crackdowns have marked the long-running insurgency by the pro-independence Free Papua Movement (OPM).

About 100,000 Papuans - a sixth of the population - have died in military operations.

Last week, suspected rebels attacked a security post, killing a government soldier.

The remote resource-rich province is home to the Grasberg mine, which is operated by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc of the United States.

The mine has the world's largest recoverable copper reserves and largest gold reserves.

Indonesia took over Papua from the Dutch in 1963 and formalised its sovereignty six years later through a stage-managed vote by about 1,000 community leaders.

Print Sponsor

Papua's struggle for independence
13 Mar 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Tremor hits Indonesia quake area
07 Jan 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Suspected bomb near Papua airport
14 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Clashes near Papua mine kill four
18 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Jakarta criticised on Papua rights
21 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Papua New Guinea
26 Nov 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Indonesia
04 Mar 09 |  Country profiles

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific