Details

Indonesian Public and Human Rights Groups Decry West Papuan Arrests

Stanley Widianto 

Indonesian human rights groups decried the arrests made of West Papuan students and pro-independence activists after they staged peaceful rallies across Indonesian cities on Saturday.

Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), demanded accountability from the Indonesian law enforcers, writing, “in the strongest possible terms, the ULMWP condemns the Indonesian government for the arrest and brutal treatment of over 500 West Papuan people and Indonesians in solidarity, who were targeted on 1st December simply for peaceful commemorating West Papua National Day.”

Amnesty International Criticism

“These arbitrary arrests add to the long list of acts of harassment, intimidation and arrests faced by Papuans this year, not to mention the attacks they faced from hostile groups at yesterday’s rallies,” Amnesty International’s Usman Hamid said in a statement.

The most number of arrests — more than 200 — took place in the city of Surabaya, East Java, where demonstrators — from organizations such as the Alliance of Papuan Students (AMP) — staged a peaceful rally commemorating West Papua’s National Day. On December 1, 1961, the morning star flag — a symbol for its independence — was first raised under Dutch administrative rule.

December 1 has since been regarded as the day West Papua carved out its independence. In 1963, West Papua was formally absorbed into Indonesia; with the trails blazed by the UN and the West, Indonesia held a contentious referendum in 1969 in which only over a thousand were selected to agree, through bribery and threats, to the formal absorption.

Charges of Treason

The rally on Saturday, as human rights lawyer and the activists’ legal council Veronica Koman told VOA, was rife with accusations of treason and separatism of the West Papuans, lobbed by more than a dozen nationalist groups. “Because of the nature of our criminal code on treason is pretty broad, it’s used to persecute these students. During the Dutch rule, there would have to be an attack in order for an act to be considered treasonous. Now it’s not,” she said.

Anindya Shabrina, a student and activist with National Students Front (FMN) who was there to document the Surabaya rally, said that she saw the nationalist groups pelt rocks, glass shards and bamboo sticks at the dormitory where the rally took place. According to her, 16 people were injured, three of them required stitching for their injuries.

“The [state apparatus] always does this in the name of the Surabaya people, even though the working class over here perhaps doesn’t really care that much about this stuff. Sentiments against dark-skinned people exist, I’m sure, but they don’t themselves commit any acts of discrimination. They accept them,” she told VOA.

It was also reported that two people involved in the Surabaya rally were missing: university students Fachri Syahrazad and Arifin. They have since returned home. On the day of the rally, they were taken to the police crime investigation unit building to be interrogated. “I wasn’t given a chance to contact my family or a lawyer,” Fachri told VOA, adding that he was there to document the rally and that his phone and wallet were confiscated by officers. “The next day, I woke up at 7 only to be grilled again and the official report, along with further questioning, was made at 12. It was very intimidating.” Veronica said that it should have been illegal to deny someone who has just been arrested a chance to contact any form of legal council.

Surabaya police chief Rudi Kurniawan told VOA that no arrests have been made. “That was an effort at protection and repatriation because an order was disturbed,” he said.

Widespread Protests

The arrests were not the first for West Papuan activists or students.

Crackdowns on protests also took place in the special province of Yogyakarta in 2016. Security was also cited as the reason. The crackdown took place again the following year, when President Joko Widodo made a visit to Yogyakarta.

The provinces of Papua and West Papua have been plagued by intimidation and violence, with over 500,000 Papuans killed since the 1960s. It is also Indonesia’s poorest province, with 28 percent of its people living below the poverty line. A military presence, complicated by its involvement with Freeport McMora.pn (Papua houses the lucrative Grasberg gold mine), has also been cited as one of the sources of violence in the region. In 2014, four people of the Paniai regency were shot by security forces. In 2017 shootings between the Free Papua Movement and security forces were reported.

Febriana Firdaus, an investigative journalist who has written extensively on West Papua, said that what’s caused the rift is Indonesia’s treatment of Papuans. “They’re not transparent about what happened between Indonesia and Papua. Papuans feel suspicious that their freedom of expression is silenced. Indonesia never opens up to Papua, especially with regards to the [The Act of Free Choice] referendum, in which people were captured and killed,” she said.

“There’s no democracy for Papuan students to express their political aspirations as prescribed by Indonesia’s constitution,” said Dorlince Iyowau, spokesperson for the “Alliance of Papuan Students.” “There’s no good future for West Papuans because the only good future for West Papuans is independence from Indonesia’s colonialism.”(VOA)

0

Related Article

Posted on: Saturday, May 18, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - Copy Editing Desk

Women Banned From Cycling In Bike-Friendly Iranian City

When Khamenei issued his fatwa against women riding bikes in September 2016, he said that “women often attract the attention of male strangers and expose society to debauchery, and thus contravene women’s chastity, and it must be abandoned.”

Posted on: Friday, April 12, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - Copy Editing Desk

UN Rights Chief Urges Respect for Human Rights in Post-Coup Sudan

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is urging Sudan’s new rulers to uphold the constitution and take heed of human rights as they try to move the country forward after the toppling of president Omar al-Bashir

Posted on: Sunday, February 10, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - Copy Editing Desk

Amnesty: Ukrainian Authorities ‘Slow To React’ To Attacks Against Journalists, Rights Advocates

The attacks against a range of individuals and groups have come in the form of threats and physical violence from extremist groups to the canceling of broadcasting licenses of specific media outlets by the authorities.

Posted on: | By: crimeandmoreworld - News Desk

Poland: Women’s Rights Supporters Targeted

The report, “The Breath of the Government on My Back”: Attacks on Women’s Rights in Poland, documents how, since coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice government has targeted women’s rights groups through raids and defunding

Posted on: Friday, February 8, 2019 | By: crimeandmoreworld - News Desk

Villagers From Myanmar’s Chin State Escape Fighting, Cross Border to Bangladesh

Chin state authorities have warned local residents in Matupi township, north of Paletwa, to stay away from military camps and refrain from hunting with guns during the night and early morning

Top

Privacy & Cookies: This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.
To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cookie Policy more information

Privacy & Cookies: This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.
To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cookie Policy

Close