21 Dec 2018

More arrests of West Papuans demonstrating

10:12 am on 21 December 2018

There have been more arrests of West Papuans in Indonesian cities for demonstrating on an historical date.

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Photo: RNZI

Yesterday's demonstrations were to mark the day in 1961 when Indonesia launched a military campaign to take over the former Dutch New Guinea.

A human rights lawyer representing Papuans, Veronica Koman, said the demos were partly organised by the pro-independence West Papua National Committee, or KNPB.

Nearly 50 people were arrested at various points in Papua's provincial capital Jayapura.

Papua Police Public Relations officer, Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, said police conducted inspections and searches of the KNPB headquarters in Jayapura.

Items confiscated included a Papuan Morning Star flag, pamphlets, a rifle and fruit.

A spokesman for Indonesia's military said there was no permission given for the demonstrations.

In Timika, in Papua's south, one hundred and thirty people were blocked from demonstrating and unable to leave the KNPB's secretariat.

The KNPB's demo in Merauke was also blocked, with four people arrested.

There were also arrests of dozens more demonstrators, including Papuan students, in the Indonesian city of Malang, while dozens were foricbly dispersed in Bali

Meanwhile, Ms Koman reports that in Ternate Indonesian military detained seven demonstrators who were assaulted and made to sing the Indonesian national anthem.

"It's just to stifle their freedom of speech, to shut them up," she said.

Today's events follow arrests of 500 people at the beginning of the month after Papuan demonstrations to mark the anniversary of 1961's Papuan declaration of independence.

Ms Koman said the police response to these latest demos was different to the 1st of December demos.

"We did see a decrease from 1st of December, I mean the number of arrests, but police were so much more repressive than 1st December.

"There were lots of beatings in Jayapura, lots of bleedings, and at one student dorm in Jayapura hundreds of police came and... not exactly raided, but you know, that's pretty intimidating."

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