A resident surveys damage caused by protestors who had set fire to government buildings and vehicles during a violent rally in Jayapura, Papua, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Indrayadi TH)

Communications Disrupted in Jayapura After Protestors Cut Main Fiber-Optic Cable


AUGUST 29, 2019

Jakarta. Several parts of Jayapura have been affected by a communications blackout since Thursday afternoon, when an unidentified group severed the main fiber-optic cable during a violent anti-racism protest in the Papua provincial capital, Communications Minister Rudiantara said.

Thousands of people have participated in sporadic rallies in several cities in Papua and West Papua since Aug. 19 to express their anger over acts of racism against Papuan students on Java Island two weeks ago.

Most of the rallies have turned violent, with angry mobs setting fire to public facilities and government buildings, such as in Manokwari and Sorong in West Papua and Deiyai district in Papua, which resulted in the death of a soldier and two civilians.

This prompted the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to limited internet access in the country's two easternmost provinces over the past two weeks to contain the situation and prevent the spread of provocative content on social media.

"The government's policy is only to limit data services, and not a telecommunications blackout," Rudiantara said in a statement on Thursday night.

This meant that phone and SMS services were still available, he said.

"What happened in Jayapura, is that some people have cut the main fiber-optic cable belonging to Telkomsel, completely disrupting all communications in several parts of Jayapura," he added.

The minister did not say who was responsible for the act of sabotage.

The communications blackout is severely limiting the availability of information on the situation in Jayapura.

Metro TV reported that the protestors had also set fire to Telkom's offices and several other buildings in the city.