Kate Lamb in Jakarta, Marni Cordell and Ben Doherty Sat 28 Sep 2019 01.22 BST
'I feel like I'm dying': West Papua witnesses recount horror of police shootings
Number of dead may be higher than official death toll and unrest in Wamena may have claimed as many as 41 lives
Witnesses to Monday’s deadly riots in West Papua claim Indonesian police gunned down Papuan students in the street during the unrest, and say Wamena has since become a militarised ghost town.
With internet services blocked and phone lines initially down and subsequently disrupted, it has been difficult to obtain a full picture of the horror that unfolded in Wamena on Monday, which Amnesty International has described as “one of the bloodiest days in Papua in 20 years”.
Sources on the ground say police and military are guarding the Wamena hospital, effectively blocking access to anyone who tries to independently verify the number of fatalities. Some Papuans have also retrieved victims and bodies directly from the street. Because of this, the real death toll is unknown, but could be as high as 41.
The Guardian has been provided with a list of 65 names of Papuans said to be at Wamena hospital suffering gunshot wounds and “injuries from sharp weapons”.
In the days since the deadly violence, there has been a strong army presence on the streets of Wamena, and shops, schools and gas stations have been closed. Meanwhile, thousands of migrants have fled, some boarding military flights to Jayapura, while indigenous Papuans have returned to villages on the outskirts of town.
After the riot, thousands sought refuge in churches and in police and military buildings, as parts of the town were torched and covered in towering plumes of smoke. The regent’s office was burned to the ground. Houses, shops, cars and the market were also set on fire.
At least four sources told the Guardian that “migrants” (non-indigenous Papuans), who dominate economic life in Wamena, are now walking the streets carrying machetes and iron sticks.
One source told the Guardian that “people in Wamena are afraid to go out”. The source said the shutdown of the internet and other modes of communication had exacerbated people’s fears of further violence and fuelled “ugly rumours” circulating the city.
“The settlers [migrants] are guarding their houses with machetes in their hands, and the Papuans are traumatised, and they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“Thousands of migrants are fleeing the city, they want to be evacuated and they are being facilitated by the government, but Papuans are also terrified. They are thinking, ‘if the government is so quick to help settlers leave, what is being planned after that?’ There is currently that uncertainty.”
A leaked police memo, sent from the Papua police chief to his deputy and other officials, urges police and military to prepare weapons and ammunition “where they can be easily accessed” and warns non-Papuans to be vigilant and “stay temporarily in a safe place”.
Monday’s riot has for the second time painfully revealed how inflammable structural racism has become in West Papua, fuelling not just protests but a movement for independence from Indonesia.
“Papuan students are tired of racism and want to stand up for themselves,” Linus Hiluka, a former political prisoner who lives in Wamena, told the Guardian.
“They want their own story.”
“Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd”
Tot esperant que surtin imatges de Papua i diguin que són de l'Eixample.
Lorena Roldán diu que a Barcelona "hi ha persones amb catanes" a plena llum del dia
"Estem veient com els ciutadans de Barcelona tenen por de sortir al carrer. Estem veient fins i tot imatges a plena llum del dia de persones que van amb catanes i comenten il·legalitats."