Police in the Indonesian state of Papua deployed water cannons on Tuesday, against demonstrators protesting plans for a massive redistricting in the restive region.
Last year, Jakarta stated that it was exploring creating six new provinces in the region, which has been home to a decades-long conflict.
It claimed that the restructuring would speed up development and make governance easier, but many Papuans complained that they had not been consulted and that the move would strengthen the capital’s influence over the mineral-rich province.
In March, two people were killed and several others injured when a protest against the plan turned violent in Papua’s Yahukimo district.
On Tuesday, thousands gathered in several locations near the provincial capital Jayapura to reject the plan, with similar protests in other parts of the country.
Authorities used water cannon to disperse the protesters in Waena, on the outskirts of Jayapura, national police spokesman Gatot Repli Handoko told AFP.
“The students were blocking the road which was disturbing the public and the officers opened the blockade. At that time we did use water cannon to disperse the mass,” he said.
Images showed anti-riot police deployed with heavy equipment, and gunshots were heard.
More than 1,000 police officers were sent to the protests in Papua.
At least one person — identified only as JW — was arrested, for allegedly spreading provocation and fake news ahead of the protest.
Local media reported that it was Papuan activist Jefry Wenda.
“He was arrested for spreading fake and provocative news which he spread through social media prior to the demonstration,” Handoko said.
Papua’s ongoing insurgency aims to gain independence from Indonesia, which took control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s.
At least 20 people were killed in a fight between security forces and demonstrators in West Papua region in 2019, following days of violent rioting in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, over bigotry toward Papuan students.