More than 10,000 security forces deployed to secure national sports event in West Papua – Authorities ban Morning Star symbol

The National Sports Games (PON XX) are currently taking place in the regencies Jayapura, Mimika and Merauke, Papua Province, from 2 to 15 October 2021. According to the media outlet Indoposco, more than 10,000 security force personnel have been deployed to the sports venues to secure the mass event. They comprise 1,686 police mobile brigade (Brimob) members, 5,500 police officers, 2,800 military members as well as members of the Densus 88 anti-terror special forces.


The deployment of security forces from other parts of Indonesia has reportedly caused frictions between indigenous Papuans and security personnel. The external forces lack cultural sensitivity and understanding of daily life situations in West Papua.


Frater Anton Pn XX Suara PapuaPastor Kristianus Sasior was reportedly arrested (see photo on the right, source: Suara Papua) on 3 October 2021 as he was watching a soccer game in Jayapura. Police members detained him for several hours because he was wearing a t-shirt with the Morning Star, a symbol of Papuan cultural identity and emblem of the West Papua independence movement.

Observers saw that security force members checked market stalls where Papuan women were selling traditional handbags and other accessories. They reportedly prohibited the women from selling accessories with a Morning Star symbol.

According to media sources, this was not the only incident where Morning Star symbols caused an intervention by Indonesian authorities. The performance of the music group “Trio Papua” during the opening ceremony was allegedly cancelled at short notice because one of the band members had a Morning Star tattoo.

A member of the Papuan Peoples’ Assembly (MRP), Mrs Orpa Nari, emphasized in an interview with media outlet Jubi that the Morning Star was a symbol of cultural identity. She called upon the police to refrain from prosecution of Papuans wearing or selling items with Morning Star symbols.