The Jakarta Post
Mimika Police in Papua have named 34 people suspects for rioting in the town of Timika, where rallies protesting racism and violence against Papuan students escalated into extreme unrest on Wednesday.
Police officers arrested on Wednesday morning 13 people who had allegedly blocked roads and forcefully demanded several repair shops to hand over car tires, which were later believed to have been set on fire during the protests, Mimika Police chief Adj. Comr. Agung Marlianto said.
Authorities also found fuel, sharp weapons and a Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag, which is associated with the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and its supporters who campaign for the independence of Papua.
After protests in Timika descended into riots on Wednesday, the police apprehended another 31 suspects, 20 of whom had allegedly attacked and damaged the Grand Mozza Hotel located nearby the Mimika Regional Legislative Council (DPRD).
“We will only continue legal processes against 34 of the 45 arrested individuals,” Agung said, adding that the police believed that there were “free-riders who wanted to exploit the initially peaceful protest”.
Agung claimed that as of Wednesday evening the situation in Timika had been kept under control and calm, kompas.com reported.
No fatalities and few injuries had been reported during the turmoil: only three security personnel who suffered light injuries. “They had received medical treatment,” Agung said.
Protests broke out in cities across Papua and West Papua starting Monday morning as people took to the streets to vent their anger over the racist abuse suffered by Papuan students at the hands of a mob over the weekend in Surabaya, East Java.
Besides Timika, violent unrest was reported on Wednesday in the West Papua regency of Fakfak, where protesters set fire to kiosks and stalls and conflicts erupted between a local mass organization and some protesters. (vny/afr)