Indonesia: End internet shutdown in Papua and West Papua provinces

Responding to the decision of the Communications and Information Ministry to shut down mobile internet in Papua and West Papua provinces, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“This blanket internet blackout is an appalling attack on people’s right to freedom of expression in Papua and West Papua. This is not a time for censorship. These tensions are not an excuse to prevent people from sharing information and peacefully speaking their mind. In addition, the decision would also prevent people from documenting and sharing evidence of abuses committed by security forces, just as authorities are sending more security forces to the region.

“The immediate priority for the authorities should be to launch a thorough and effective investigation into the root cause of the unrest: allegations of discrimination and unlawful use of force against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang in East Java over the weekend. Further restricting the exercise of human rights must not be the answer.”

Background

On 22 August, the Communications and Information Ministry confirmed to Amnesty International Indonesia that authorities had slowed down internet access in Papua and West Papua on Monday and Tuesday as unrest broke in a number of places in the provinces to protest against allegations of discrimination and unlawful use of force against Papuan students in East Java over the weekend.

The government further moved on Wednesday to “temporarily” impose a total internet access shut down for mobile cellular networks both in Papua and West Papua until further notice, after fresh unrest broke in Fakfak, West Papua. The measure, according to the Ministry, is “to prevent the spread of misinformation that could provoke people to stage violent protests.”