After tens of thousands of Papuans staged mass rallies across West Papua in May 1, 2012, a radical change of tactics by Indonesian security forces has ignited fears in the civilian population throughout the region, according to Papuan peace and justice activists. Serui, the main town on Yapen Island (off the north coast of Papua) has become a “hot spot” for major military and police operations using intimidation and terror tactics against the local Papuans, local sources told West Papua Media on Wednesday.
On May 23, a peaceful demonstration organised by activists from Manokwari (on the mainland) and Serui was held to express people’s concern about intensifying Police brutality against civilians.
This month, many unconfirmed reports from local activists have documented a steady increase in fear and trauma by the civilian population across Yapen Island stemming from security operations. Mass rallies have been held to protest the situation but according to organisers, the rallies – expected to number thousands of participants – were not well attended because the extreme violent confrontational policies of the security forces caused many people to stay home due to fear.
Unconfirmed reports from local stringers told West Papua Media that for several days leading up to the demonstrations, shots were fired at night to threaten the locals.