TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation's (YLBHI) chairman for advocacy, Muhammad Isnur, said that restricting internet access in Papua is an act of racism.
"The government's act of limiting the internet and blocking off information is racist in the context of Papua," Isnur said at KontraS Office on Wednesday, August 28.
Isnur said there are demonstrations every day in Java. In Aceh and Kalimantan, he claimed, there were hoaxes too. But internet blocking is never applied there. He questioned why Papua is discriminated against in this context.
Isnur said that racism not only acted towards Papuans but also to those who side with them.
"[The government] is not just racists to (the Papuan people), lawyers are also stigmatized and given terrible treatment," Isnur said. "We are called monkeys, pigs, traitors."
Blocking the internet is still being carried out in the eastern provinces of Indonesia. The Communication and Information Ministry said the block will be lifted once situations are under control.
During the past week, several regions in Papua saw large demonstrations that led to riots. On Monday, August 19, 2019, a mob set fire to the Manokwari Regional Parliament Building in West Papua. They also vandalized the airport in the city of Sorong.
The rallies began after reports that Papuan students were treated with racism in Surabaya, East Java. A number of mass organizations surrounded a student dormitory after hearing that an Indonesian flag was thrown into a ditch in front of a Papuan student dormitory.
Among those involved were members of the TNI. It was during the siege that racist words were heard shouted to Papuan students.
YLBHI hopes that the police will arrest the perpetrators and prosecute them openly and publicly.