Realities behind the Internet Blockage in the highlands of West Papua

Since Monday 23rd of September 2019 internet network was cut off including power outage for the whole Wamena Township making the work of doctors and nurses in the Wamena general hospital difficult to handle the wounded patients in huge numbers who needed immediate attention. Many of the local patients were taken home due to the hardships faced as well as seeking refuge from Indonesian military and police attacks.

As is common to all towns throughout West Papua all the shops were owned and operated by the immigrants making them controlling the entire business activities in every town in Papua provinces marginalizing West Papuans in the process. The incident resulted in some migrants giving keys to their shops to the local people while others locked them up and left for Police and military posts for their own safety. More than 7, 000 migrants were reported seeking refuge in the nearby military and police stations including local churches and government buildings.

The airport was shut down for two days and only opened on the 25th of September, 2019 for medical runs by two military aircrafts. Among the patients were more than 4000 migrants that desperately wanted to fly out of Wamena due to the unsafe environment created by the conflict. The migrants include Papuans from coastal regencies and Indonesians flew out of Wamena without paying for their tickets.

The problem is far from over as Papuans still expect their aspirations to be resolved in a dignified manner by Jakarta. The Papua problems for the last 57 years has been suppressed and heavily repressed and traumatized for years under brutal force of Indonesian military which the people got used to it. As the government was busy trying to calm the Wamena case, Yalimo regency was also set alight by unknown persons at around 8: 30 pm local time on the 25th of September, 2019. The old regent office building was blazed to the ground including adjacent buildings that offices several government departments.

Two other regencies were also set alight on 25th and 26th of September 2019 respectively by locals. The Boven Digoel’s case on 25th of September was not known publicly about the cause of the fire while for Star Mountain regency police alleged that it was caused by drunkards. Police usually sell bear to the locals on the black market due to the alcohol ban by the government in the regency.  Police and military were the only people above the law in the regency they often sell alcohol dearly on the black market price. One bottle of bear for instance often sold at RP 1, 500, 000.00 to RP 2, 000, 000.00 or USD103.80 to USD138.40.


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