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Indonesian troops open fire to break up separatist protest in Papua

Demonstrators in Indonesia's restive region of Papua raised an outlawed flag on Thursday, marking the 50th anniversary of the region's claim to independence, Agence France Press (AFP) reports. Shortly afterwards, Indonesian police and troops opened fire to break up the protest.

Tjahjono Eranius / AFP - Getty Images

Papuan demonstrators erupt in a short lived celebration as they raise the banned Morning Star flag on a bamboo pole in Timika, eastern Indonesia, on the 50th anniversary of the region's claim to independence, on Dec. 1, 2011. Shortly afterwards, Indonesian police and troops opened fire to break up the protest.

Displaying separatist symbols such as the Morning Star is considered an act of treason in Indonesia under the criminal code and several perpetrators are serving 20-year jail terms for the offence, according to AFP.

Tjahjono Eranius / AFP - Getty Images

Indonesian police backed by troops break up the Papuan separatist flag-raising ceremony displaying the banned Morning Star flag in Timika on Dec. 1, 2011.

Muhammad Yamin / Reuters

Police arrest a man after dispersing hundreds of Papuans attending a ceremony in Timika on Dec. 1, 2011. Police and military dispersed hundreds of people and fired warning shots after they raised the Morning Star flag, a witness said on Thursday.

Papua is the most remote region in Indonesia and the last to be relinquished by its Dutch colonial masters a half century ago. It was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders that has widely been dismissed as a sham, according to the Associated Press.

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