Jakarta, Indonesia – Large demonstrations in Indonesia’s West Papua region have turned violent as thousands of protesters, angered by alleged police abuse against ethnic Papuan students, burned public facilities and blocked roads.
In West Papua province’s capital of Manokwari, protesters burned the parliamentary building and local stores, according to police and images obtained by Al Jazeera.
A building previously occupied by West Papua Provincial Governor Dominggus Mandacan was also burned, Indonesia’s national police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, told Al Jazeera.
There were no immediate reports of casualties. The demonstrations are still ongoing.
“For now, we are still focusing on collecting the data on the casualties and trying to calm down the masses,” he told Al Jazeera.
Images obtained by Al Jazeera showed the demonstrators, including many young students, waving the “Morning Star” flag, which is seen as a symbol of self-rule by Papuans.
“We are not white and red, we are morning star,” the protesters shouted, in reference to the Indonesian flag and the Papuan banner. Individuals carrying the banned flag could face arrest and imprisonment of up to 15 years.
There are also demonstrations reported in the city of Jayapura, the capital and largest city of Papua, the country’s easternmost province. Hundreds of people riding their motorbikes were seen joining the protest.
Al Jazeera also received reports that angry protesters forcibly took down the Indonesian flag outside the office of Papua Provincial Governor Lukas Enembe.
Indonesia’s West Papua region is divided into two provinces, West Papua and Papua.