By Tamara Soukotta, Jacobin, September 2019

Amid the loud yells celebrating freedom during the Indonesian Independence Day celebration last month, West Papuan students in Surabaya were attacked in their own residences by civilian groups as well as uniformed military. Apart from suffering physical wounds, the West Papuan students also endured verbal harassment, including being called “monkeys.”

Within days of the attack, West Papuans took to the streets in a mass protest against Indonesia’s ongoing racism toward West Papuans. The protest soon turned into a demand for a referendum for West Papuans to determine their own fate as a nation. The Indonesian government then sent troops to West Papua while at the same time shutting down communications access across the province.

In recent weeks, eight West Papuans have been reported dead and more than a dozen wounded in clashes with military personnel as well as pro-Indonesia militias. Today, West Papua is still relatively closed, with the Indonesian government declaring war against anyone who speaks in support of West Papua, through massive internet crackdowns in an effort to uncover those accused of “spreading hoax” about the recent situation in West Papua and “provoking conflicts” there. In reality, those accused of spreading hoax are those who report on the situation in the province and provide facts that contradict official statements released by the Indonesian government.

Read the full story via Jacobin