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Indonesia restores internet in Papua as unrest subsides

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Indonesia restored internet services in most of the easternmost Papua regions on Thursday as unrest subsided after more than two weeks of protests, an official said.

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Authorities imposed an internet blackout on Papua and West Papua provinces on Aug. 21 in an attempt to restore order after protesters set fire to buildings and attacked security forces.

“Based on coordination with relevant authorities, we deem that the security situation is returning to normal,’’ said Ferdinandus Setu, a spokesman for the Communications and Information Technology Ministry.

He said the remaining 13 districts, where the internet was still down, could expect to be connected again on Thursday.

At least five people were killed during the unrest, which started on Aug. 19 and was sparked by perceived heavy-handed and racist treatment of Papuan students by security personnel on Java Island.

Police forced their way into a Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, and briefly detained 43 students for allegedly desecrating an Indonesian flag.

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The two weeks of protests saw thousands of people march through the streets of the two provinces, many chanting “Free Papua!”

The region has been the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency since the 1960s.

Police on Wednesday named a prominent human rights lawyer, Veronica Koman, as a suspect, accusing her of inciting the unrest in Papua.

Koman has been a staunch advocate of a referendum on self-determination for Papua and has defended pro-independence dissidents in the region.

Police said some of her posts on Twitter contained misinformation that inflamed anger in Papua. (dpa/NAN)

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