Nearly 260 prisoners in the Indonesian-controlled part of the island of New Guinea have escaped following Monday's disturbances, BBC News writes Wednesday. At the beginning of this week, thousands of West Papuans took to the streets to demonstrate against the Indonesian authorities and many vandalisms were committed.

In various cities, streets were blocked and buildings were set on fire. Part of a prison went up in flames, giving prisoners the chance to escape.

They would then be pelted with stones by protesters, according to local justice spokesperson Marlien Lande.

According to Lande, a total of 258 prisoners have escaped. Five of them have already reported themselves to prison guards.

Thousands of people protest against the arrest of students

Mass demonstrations were organized in the region after 43 students were arrested during the celebration of the Indonesian Independence Day. They were accused of bending a flagpole. Agents would have called the students 'monkeys' tear gas.

Although the students were released the same day without charge, streets were still blocked and vehicles and buildings were set on fire all over the country. A fire also raged in the regional government building in Manokwari, the capital of West Papua.

Indonesia is sending more agents to West Papua

The West Papuans demand apologies from the authorities and protection for students from this area studying elsewhere in Indonesia. In the meantime, the Indonesian authorities have sent more agents to West Papua because more protests are expected. It is not clear how many agents are involved.

The island of New Guinea consists of two parts. The west is governed by Indonesia and the east, which became independent from Australia in 1975, is the separate state of Papua New Guinea.

Still revolts in West Papua

The Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea includes the provinces of Papua and West Papua. After the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1949), Indonesia became independent from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In contrast, western New Guinea remained under Dutch rule for another fourteen years.

In 1963 the region was finally transferred to Indonesia after UN mediation. The official annexation followed six years later after a controversial referendum. In recent decades there have been regular uprisings in the poorest region of Indonesia.

See also: Unrest on Papua after 'racist' action by Indonesian police


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