Dozens arrested in Papua province for flying separatist flags
Indonesian police have detained 41 people in the country's easternmost province of Papua for allegedly hoisting separatist flags, a media report said Sunday.
Papua police spokesman Senior Commissioner Agus Rianto said that the arrests took place Saturday in Papua's Fakfak district. All 41 are former political prisoners, he said, the dpa reported.
Three of the detainees hoisted the Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag belonging to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) separatist group in front of the former people's self-determination vote (Pepera) office, the Jakarta Post reported.
Agus said that police had seized the flag and several documents, written in a local dialect, as well as several bladed weapons as evidence.
The flag has long been a symbol of the region's separatist rebellion, with the Papuan Tribal Council urging the government to recognize the flag as a cultural symbol of Papuans.
Wilhemina Woy, secretary of the council's Fakfak office, said the flag-raising had been engineered by other parties and called on police to arrest the real culprits and release the innocent detainees.
The OPM is a small rebel group that has fought for secession in the predominantly Melanesian Papua, formerly Irian Jaya province, since the former Dutch colony of Western New Guinea became part of Indonesia in 1964.