Indonesian police in Jayapura have violently dispersed a pro-independence rally being held by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).
KNPB leader Victor Yeimo was arrested along with media worker Marthen Manggaprouw and two KNPB activists.
The rally was being held to commemorate the shootings and violent crackdown by Indonesian security forces on peaceful demonstrations across Papua on May 1, which left four people dead and drew international condemnation up to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay.
Reports from witnesses at the scene have confirmed that police conducted several rounds of baton charges against rally participants who arrived on motorbikes, and then joined by over 1,000 other participants who continued to resist the police charges outside the gates of Cenderawasih University in Abepura. Injuries have been reported by but no particulars are yet available.
More arrests are expected according to witnesses.
Jayapura police chief Alfred Papare ordered the arrests of Yeimo, Manggaprouw, Yongky Ulimpa, Ely Kobak after intense negotiations from 9:00am local time between police and the activists to allow the rally failed. In this time, thousand’s of frontline Papuan civilians and activists had gathered ready to march from Lingkaran Abepura (outside the Post office) near the site of late KNPB Chairman Mako Tabuni’s assassination by Australian-trained Detachment 88 officers to the People’s Assembly Council (MRP) office.
At 10:50am local time, the mass gathering was attacked and the activists were arrested, beaten by Police, and media activist Manggaprouw had his camera equipment seized by Police. They were taken to Polda Papua headquarters in Jayapura, where grave concerns are held by human rights workers for their safety and freedom from torture.
KNPB Spokesman Wim Medlama told suarapapua.com,
“True, officers had arrested four people on Housing III, near the taxi round. Police officers came down with their trucks, crashing into and damaging several motorbikes as well, and then arrested them. Currently they are being brought to the Papua Police. We beg for advocacy.”
“We want to MRP to hold accountable the government and security apparatus-related deaths in all the land of Papua, especially those occurring in Aimas, Sorong, at the time of Papua’s integration demo day on May 1, 2013 and now,”
The rally had been banned by notorious former Detachment 88 chief, now Papua Police chief, Tito Karnavian, in a move that had been widely criticised by Papuan civil society leaders, including Baptist Church leader Socretez Yoman and Kingmi Church leader Benny Giay.
KNPB Chairman Victor Yeimo yesterday told SuaraPapua.com that the ban would not deter Papuan people from peacefully voicing their aspirations. The Papua Police banning peaceful demonstrations is very unnatural, as well as it being illegal, because freedom of public expression is guaranteed by law in the country of Indonesia.
“The Police Chief’s ban is part of the continued suppression of expression was silenced in Papua. In principle, we will continue to go down,”
Yeimo told SuaraPapua.com.
Journalists with SuaraPapua.com and stringers from West Papua Media reported that hundreds of fully armed police and military were at present “securing” Jayapura with 6 truckloads of police, 4 barracudas armoured cars and water cannons, and
“police motorcycles continue to keep all the corners of the city of Jayapura to cancel the action plan undertaken by Papuan people.”.
Unconfirmed reports from witnesses have also claimed that Indonesian Army (TNI) soldiers have been mobilised.
The situation in Jayapura is currently highly tense, with more reaction expected from both Papuan civilians and security forces.
More to come – this is a developing story