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Jakarta Post

Jakarta restores internet access in Papua, but with a warning

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie
    Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, September 5, 2019   /   06:45 pm
Jakarta restores internet access in Papua, but with a warning Security talks: Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto (right) talks with National Intelligence Agency (BIN) head Budi Gunawan (left) before a limited Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Dec. 29. (Antara/Widodo S. Jusuf)

Jakarta announced on Thursday that it had restored internet access in Papua and West Papua, saying that security conditions in the country’s easternmost regions had improved over the past few weeks.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said he had received up-to-date reports from National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) about the current situation in both provinces.

“As I have promised before, the internet restriction has now been lifted,” Wiranto told journalists in Jakarta on Thursday.

The senior minister, however, warned that the central government would impose another internet blackout in the region should tensions escalate to the point of reigniting unrest.

“We returned internet access [but] with a note: If [security] conditions worsen, which we hope will not, we will block the internet again,” he said.

The government started imposing an internet restriction in Papua and West Papua on Aug. 21 on the pretext of security, shortly after antiracism protests escalated into riots across the two provinces.

The policy sparked outrage among residents and activists who argued that the blackout had restricted their access to information about conditions in the restive region, which saw thousands of additional security personnel deployed as riots flared.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet previously expressed concerns over the blackout, saying “blanket internet shutdowns are likely to contravene freedom of expression and limiting communications may exacerbate tensions”.