An estimated 2,000 Papuans took to the streets of provincial capital Jayapura to demand independence from Indonesia, days after a local council called for the province’s special autonomy to be revoked because of its perceived ineffectiveness.
The Papuans, who marched from Sentani district to Jayapura in their traditional garb, demanded an independence referendum for the province.
Since the 1960s, a low-level separatist movement in the province has resulted in some bloody clashes between government security forces and rebels. In July 2008, 46 Papuans were arrested on charges of treason after they hoisted the Morning Star flag, one of Papua’s independence symbols.
Another major point of contention is Grasberg mine, the world’s biggest copper and gold mine, managed by US-based Freeport but financed in part by Rio Tinto, which continues to extract enormous profits from the mine. It has long polarized residents and the government over its environmental impact and revenue-sharing.