Mass arrests in West Papua ahead of demos

Indonesian police have made widespread arrests in Papua region as West Papuans prepare to hold demonstrations.

RNZI reports demonstrations have been planned for today in most of the region's urban centres as West Papuans mark by protest the anniversary of transferal of administration in the former Dutch New Guinea to Indonesia in 1963.

Dozens of West Papuans were arrested in Papuan cities such as Jayapura and Merauke for organising demonstrations which were expected to take place today.

West Papua Media Alerts reported that 178 arrests had been made in Jayapura alone.

The demonstrations follow a series of marches on April 13th when thousands of West Papuans demonstrated in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.

44 demonstrators were arrested during those peaceful demonstrations.

One of the Movement's key groups, the West Papua National Committee, or KNPB, said it would persevere with plans to hold demonstrations despite being disallowed by security forces.

However, the Papua Police Chief Paulus Waterpauw said the KNPB's request for permission to march was rejected because it did not complete the requirements in accordance with the law.