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Protesters set fire to town hall amid chaos in Indonesia’s West Papua (VIDEO)

Protesters set fire to town hall amid chaos in Indonesia’s West Papua (VIDEO)
Protests sweeping Indonesia’s West Papua province have plunged its capital into chaos, with angry demonstrators setting the local parliament alight. Violence erupted after Indonesian police arrested dozens of local students.

A video has been circulating on social media, purporting to show the building, which houses a regional parliament in West Papua’s provincial capital of Manokwari, going up in flames. Thick plumes of smoke can be seen billowing from the structure as it is ravaged by the blaze.

As the town hall was being devoured by fire, onlookers could be seen taking photos of the inferno.

Demonstrators, some of them armed with sticks, also burned trash and tires in an attempt to block roads.

The city streets have been swarmed by protesters chanting pro-independence slogans and waving the ‘Morning Star’ flag, which has served as a symbol of West Papua’s struggle for independence from Indonesia for decades.

Police said that the protesters have blocked most of the roads, making it virtually impossible for law enforcement to move in and quell the disturbances.

"Almost all of the crossroads in Manokwari are blocked by the community and students. The students are in the center of the city, but at the periphery many roads are [also] blocked," police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, told detik.com website, adding that officers are trying to negotiate with demonstrators to clear the roads.

The protests swept the city after Indonesian authorities briefly detained 43 people in a raid on a student dorm on Saturday, after an Indonesian flag flying in front of the building was allegedly ripped off a flagpole and thrown into a sewer.

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The incident drew the wrath of Indonesians who flocked to the building, chanting anti-West Papuan slogans and hurling racial slurs at the students barricaded inside. As the standoff continued, police used tear gas inside the building, forcing the students outside, where dozens were arrested. The crackdown has prompted accusations of disproportionate use of force and unlawful arrest.

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