More than 500 people have been arrested in West Papua after protests on the 55th anniversary of the Indonesian military occupation of the region last week.
TeleSUR English reported that a total of 528 people were arrested by Indonesian authorities, with at least one report of a protester being tortured by security forces. Several children are also thought to be amongst those detained.
West Papua independence leader Benny Wenda said in a statement that in “this year alone over 4,800 people have been unlawfully arrested and many others killed and tortured by the Indonesian military and police”.
The protest, which saw thousands of people march in 15 different locations, also called for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to become a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Activists hope that membership to the intergovernmental organisation will provide increasing momentum to the West Papua independence movement, with several MSG members having spoken out against Indonesian abuses in the region.