National Police spokesman Brig.Gen. Dedi Prasetyo, left.(Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Police Uncover Plot to Stage More Riots in Papua and West Papua

BY :GARDI GAZARIN & TELLY NATHALIA

SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

Jakarta. Police say they have uncovered a plot to stage more riots in Papua and West Papua until Dec. 1, following the arrest of the head of the West Papua National Committee's (KNPB) branch in Mimika, Steven Itlay, on Wednesday. 

"We are investigating Steven's role in the riots that occurred in several areas in Papua, especially in Jayapura, last month," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Steven is suspected of working with Benny Wenda, the chairman of the United Kingdom-based United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), to organize mobs at the riots, Dedi said.

Earlier, National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said Benny was the main person responsible for a series of violent pro-independence protests in Papua and West Papua in August.

The protests in Indonesia's two easternmost provinces were initially triggered by ethnic and racial discriminations against Papuan students on the island of Java. 

Tito said people behind the riots had wanted to attract international attention to gain support for an independence referendum for Papua.

Police say they have since found that the group also planned to stage more riots in Papua and West Papua until Dec. 1, a day commemorated as Papua's independence day by supporters of the Free Papua Movement (OPM).

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