Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called for calm on Monday after protesters set fire to a local parliament building in easternmost Papua region during rioting sparked by allegations that police used racist language and beat Papuan students in recent days.
Thousands marched in Papua and West Papua provinces, which make up the Indonesian half of New Guinea island, to protest alleged racist treatment by security forces and residents against Papuan students who demanded self-determination for the mainly Melanesian region during a rally in East Java on Friday.
“My brothers and sisters in West Papua, I know you are offended, and as we belong to one nation, the best thing to do is to forgive each other,” Jokowi said in televised remarks.
“I understand that emotions are high,” he said, “but forgiveness and patience should prevail.”
Protesters in Manokwari, the capital of West Papua, attacked the provincial parliament and set fire to several other government buildings, police said. Television footage showed thick smoke billowing from the local House of Representatives building.
There were no immediate reports of fatalities.
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