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Indonesian Police surveille activists during the Papuan Cultural Parade, August 15, 2013

Mixed success for Papuan Cultural parades despite pre-emptive arrests across Papua

Special Wrap-up report by West Papua Media, with local sources.

(Apologies for delay in posting as WPM was chasing hi-res photo essays from outlying regions.  This will be a separate item as soon as we get hold of them.)

August 26, 2013

Scores of non-violent activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested across Papua over the last two weeks, when Indonesian Police carried out pre-emptive sweeps ahead of a day of mobilisation on August 15, a day intended to celebrate Papuan cultural identity and demand rights to free expression be respected.

Organisers across Papua claimed varying degrees of success in holding the cultural parades, hailing the assertion of Papuan cultural identity in the face of a “deliberate campaign of cultural suppression by the Indonesian colonial security forces” as a “moral victory that would show that West Papuan people are not going to die quietly,”  according to sources who spoke with West Papua Media (WPM).

The parades were organised by West Papuan activists on the anniversary of the contentious New York Agreement – that began the process of Indonesian colonisation of Papua – to demonstrate against ongoing the threats to the survival of Papuan culture.  The parades  were also celebrating the opening of the new Free West Papua Campaign office in The Hague in The Netherlands under the coordination of Oridek Ap (the exiled son of executed West Papuan musician and cultural hero Arnold Ap).

Despite Police being widely reported by Indonesian colonial media stating they would allow the parades to go ahead, activists and stringers for WPM reported from across the country of waves of arrests – or detentions as described by Indonesian security forces – and intimidation that prevented several of the parades from occurring.

Nevertheless, the events went ahead in Jayapura, Wamena and Biak, with  much smaller gatherings unconfirmed across the rest of the country.

Papuans villagers  arrested and searched, detained in Aula Fakfak Police for interrogation (photo: Alex Tethool / Jubi / Fakfak)
Papuans villagers arrested and searched, detained in Aula Fakfak Police for interrogation (photo: Alex Tethool / Jubi / Fakfak)

In the west coast town of FakFak, police arrested several dozen people on August 13, according to reports from Tabloid Jubi, and human rights sources.   Jubi reported that officers intercepted two trucks carrying dozens of villagers as they were preparing to attend the Cultural Parade on the 15th.  Police commandeered the trucks to  the police headquarters in Fakfak, detaining and interrogating the villagers – including large numbers of women and children –  in the Police Hall.  Police refused to explain their actions to Papuan media, according to local observers.  Unconfirmed reports from Fakfak say the majority of villagers were released, but the date of their release, or the ability for them to continue their participation in the cultural parades is still unknown.


In Jayapura, KNPB Chairman Agus Kosai was arrested by Police as he and other KNPB members attempted to move a sound system from his village near Sentani (about 12km outside Jayapura) to the gravesite of slain independence hero Theys Eluay in Waena.  KNPB treasurer Toni Kobak and National Spokesperson Wim Medlama were also arrested with 13 other KNPB members.  Police interrogated them but later released them, ordering them home after seizing their banners and equipment.

Refusing to be intimidated, the released KNPB members then ignored the Police directive, made new rally materials and proceeded with the planned Cultural Parades regardless in Jayapura.

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Thousands of local people turned out in Jayapura to showcase Papua’s vibrant indigenous cultural diversity, reflecting and representing Papuan cultures from every corner of the country.   The day itself had been planned as a deeply symbolic act of cultural resistance through survival, drawing on the actions of slain ethnomusicologist Arnold Ap in a nonviolent assertion of Papuan sovereignty resisting  Indonesian colonisation and control of Papuan lives.

Indonesian Police surveille activists during the Papuan Cultural Parade, August 15, 2013
Indonesian Police surveille activists during the Papuan Cultural Parade, Jayapura, August 15, 2013 (Photo: West Papua Media / YS)

Illustrating this attempt at control, many acts of cultural expression such as banned dances, banned songs, and banned displays of cultural heritage were actively monitored by heavily armed Indonesian Police, however the sheer number of participants prevented further arrests.

Coordinator of the Peace Demonstration Warpo Sampari Wetipo, told the crowd from a stage mounted atop a Kijang car, “we in KNPB are standing with the people of Papua, despite the Indonesian military’s terror by prohibiting any peaceful demonstration and action, we do continue to fight without fear, to demand the right of self-determination for us, the people of West Papua.”

Buchtar Tabuni, West Papua Parliament Chairman, and revolving door political prisoner currently between arrests, reminded the crowd that they were gathered to “Declare to the world that the people of Papua are demanding the recognition of their right of self-determination with fairness and dignity.”  By demonstrating their cultural resistance, Tabuni said that West Papuan people were asserting their identity “as a community of the Melanesian family, that Papuans are not part of the people of Indonesia or Malay.”

Reports from the Jayapura rally suggested that police were initially prepared to utilise force against the participants after they defied the order to go home.  Significant military hardware was deployed, with security forces surrounding the thousands of people gathered at Theys’ gravesite with Armoured personnel carriers, water cannon, tear gas trucks and several Barracuda armoured assault vehicles.

According to reports filed to WPM, activists had prepared unspecified “unique” methods of non-violent de-arresting techniques should the need arise, though it is unclear whether the Indonesian security forces were prepared to respect the nonviolence of the day.

The rally had been tightly safeguarded by KNPB members, who kept the participants separated from security forces and plain clothes special forces personnel with a simple rope line, thus preventing any agents provocateur from provoking police to create a scenario of violence.  in Papua.   Buchtar Tabuni told the crowd at the end of the rally, “the security forces to help secure us, and also I just want to explain that from yesterday until last night we kept guard patrol, to keep track of things that we do not want to happen and also it helps security deposit until the day’s activities, ”

In Wamena, KNPB activists reported that police and members of the Indonesian army were also being proactive in prevention of the parades, with banner seizures and an active show of force.  According to local sources, almost the entire KODIM 756 Wim Ane Sili (lit. “House of the Sound of War” in Dani language) Battalion (up to 1000 soldiers) surround the protest field at Sinapuk,

This massive “show force” was responsible for thousands of people being forced to stay away from the Cultural gathering, according to KNPB Wamena spokesperson Mr Mabel.  The gathering was peaceful but was only attended by several hundred people.

In Biak, local members of the KNPB organised a smaller demonstration passing the site of the infamous Biak Massacre, which recently commemorated its 15th anniversary on July 6.  Hundreds of people marched from the old market and Terminal Pasar Darfuar ending up at a traditional meeting house (pendopo adat Sorido), to support the opening of The Hague Free West Papua office.  Apollos Sroyer, Biak KNPB Chairman, told WPM’s correspondent “The parade was also planned as an expression of welcome to the arrival of messengers from the Melanesian Spearhead Groups (MSG) in the near future to West Papua.”

Sroyer also expressed “gratitude to those MSG members who have expressed their support of the right of self-determination of the people of West Papua,” without mentioning the official rejection of the bid for Observer Status for West Papua by the MSG, widely seen as a betrayal of Melanesian solidarity by many across the Pacific.

WestPapuaMedia, with local sources



West Papua Media

December 1, 2012

(Jayapura) Indonesian security forces have arrested several people in West Papua today as demonstrations were held to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the original declaration of West Papua’s independence.

Victor Yeimo, the Chairman of the West Papua National Committee, has been confirmed as being arrested by police, according to independent witnesses and direct communication with his brother.  It is currently unknown if Yeimo was arrested by the Australian funded and trained Detachment 88 counter-terror unit, who had committed to hunt Yeimo.

Several other people have been confirmed arrested jointly by Indonesian military (TNI) and police outside the headquarters of TNI battalion 752 at Expo Waena.  The two confirmed detainees are Usman Yogobi and Alius Asso, according to West Papua Media stringers at the scene.  More names will be provided as soon as confirmed.

Major rallies were also held in Melbourne (Australia), and were planned to be held in Sorong, Nabire, Fak Fak, Manokwari, Wamena,, Timika and Serui.  Information from these rallies have not yet been forthcoming.

More to come – please stay tuned.


KNPB activist, Klismon Woi dies from his injuries after mysterious shooting

KNPB activist, Klismon Woi succumbs to his injuries
November 6, 2012

By KNPB News

(Note: West Papua Media has again independently verified all contents of this report with contacts in Fak-Fak, and is reprinting the KNPB News report in full as WPM has confidence in this reportage).

Fak-Fak, KNPBnews – After Paulus Horik was laid to rest yesterday (5/11), another KNPB activist in Fakfak, Klismon Woi, took his last breath this afternoon (6/11) at 12 noon, at the Regional General Hospital of Fakfak in West Papua. The late Klismon was in a critical condition for  two days due to the countless bruises and serious injuries on his face and ribs.

According to information submitted to KNPBnews this afternoon by Arnold Kocu, regional coordinator of KNPB Fakfak, the body of the now deceased Klismon Woi was brought back to the funeral home. He also confirmed that Paulus Horik was buried the day before (5/11).

Klismon Woi was a member of KNPB-Fakfak.  According to information collected from the field, there are reasons to believe that Paulus and Klismon were killed by people who were especially trained by Indonesian forces that had been monitoring the activities and events led by KNPB activists in the Fakfak region.

Special operations by the Indonesian security forces against KNPB activists have been stepped up since KNPB Chairman  Mako Tabuni was shot dead on 14 June.  Search and arrest operations, raids and killings have been undertaken continuously by the Indonesian Special forces in an effort to eradicate the peaceful resistance movement led by the KNPB (wd)

[Translation by LT] http://knpbnews.com/blog/archives/1198








Two demonstrations held; 1 in Waena, one at Taman Imbi.  Jayapura is spread out across a wide area.

Taman Imbi event was banned by police, so majority of folks moved to Waena or went home after seeing police show of force.

Confirmed from Waena, Jayapura dispersal this morning: 5 arrests including Misael Maisini, Chairman of Front Pepera. Tear Gas and Water Cannon used, while KNPB were holding rally at the site of former KNPB leader Mako Tabuni’s assassination by Densus 88 troops in June. Outside the Perunas 3 Housing complex (Yakuhimo dormitory) that was raided last night by joint TNI/Police force hunting for KNPB activists. Rally due to end soon, please stay tuned.


Police arrest KNPB activists in front of Manokwari uni campus, beaten, & taken into police trucks, according field journo Oktovianus Pogau.

Oktovianus Pogau of SuaraPapua.com was badly beaten by five Indonesian police today while covering KNPB demo outside State University of Papua, Manokwari. Pogau showed press card but still beaten. His lips were bleeding. – via Andreas Harsono.

Independent sources confirm that KNPB peace demo forcibly broken up by hundreds of armed riot lice from Kapolres Manokwari, at 0930 West Papua Time.

Manokwari, latest unconfirmed reports: 3 Wamena men shot dead instantly, 2 critically wounded and in hospital, by massive TNI/Polri hunting party that has raided the Highland dormitories at the State University of Papua, searching for KNPB activists who have dispersed in terror, according to informants in Manokwari. Unconfirmed Reports that 2 Indonesian men on Motorbikes, believed to be undercover Special Forces or Intelligence officers, have been shot with bow and arrow allegedly from highlanders. Witnesses dispute if it was in retaliation for earlier shooting deaths, or was self-defence during raid – difference of less than a minute. Raids are currently ongoing, reports of hundreds of people being rounded up by Indonesian security forces shutting down KNPB demos. Developing story – please stay tuned.

Confirmed names of four Wamena victims of Manokwari UNIPA raid by TNI/Polri: – 1 critically injured man is now dead:
1. Eduard Wantik
2.Edy Peyon
3.Maikel sama
4.Melkias Wanagau


Unconfirmed reports of arrests in Biak at KNPB demo.  Currently verifying.


Police reportedly dismantle stage for KNPB rally at Tambarui Complex, Fakfak. Demo banned, no reports yet of violence.


Communications have been cut, last reports of entire 756 Battalion and all police on streets preventing any one from gathering.  Grave fears for Wamena civilian safety.

More to come – please stay tuned

Breaking News: Police in Jayapura forcibly prevent commemoration of 3rd Papuan Congress brutality from going ahead, ban free speech

October 19, 2011

by West Papua Media

(Abepura) Indonesian Brimob Riot Police have forcibly broken up attempts to hold a memorial commemoration at the graveside of slain independence hero Theys Eluay today, where a prayer service was planned in remembrance of the first anniversary of a brutal crackdown by Indonesian security forces on the 3rd Papuan People’s Congress.

Despite the Jayapura police issuing a permit on October 8 allowing a gathering at the sacred cemetery site, the literal touchstone for civil mobilisations in support of Papuan justice issues, police reneged on their agreement with organisers for the memorial prayer service to go ahead.

Up to 1000 people braved a threatening environment in spite of an ongoing crackdown by Indonesian occupation forces across West Papua on organisers of peaceful free expression.

The event had been planned by the National Federated Republic of West Papua, the body set up immediately prior to the violent dispersal by Australian funded Detachment 88 troops on October 19 last year.  Prayer services and commemorations were also planned to be held in memorials in Wamena, Merauke, Fakfak, Sorong, Timika, Manokwari, and Serui.

Just before 10 am local time, several hundred heavily armed members of the Indonesian security forces had gathered outside Expo Waena shopping centre adjacent to the gravesite, causing many people to stand back from the already gathered mass.  6 trucks full of Brimob, 4 trucks of Army (TNI), 1 Gegana anti terror police unit and 3 trucks of Dalmas public order riot police (including members of Detachment 88) had deployed in a “show force” manoeuvre.  According to witnesses in the crowd, almost 100 plain clothes armed intelligence officers had also deployed throughout the mass of ordinary Papuans around the shopping complex threatening to kill anyone that spoke against Indonesia.

At 10 am, Police issued a verbal warning on megaphones that the gathering was illegal and would be dispersed.  However the right to engage is peaceful free expression is guaranteed both under the Indonesian Constitution and the 2001 Special Autonomy law in Papua.  Witnesses reported the police commdander on the ground as saying, “we already warned you, there will not be any democratic space for you guys to speak out about the significance of todays commemoration,” relayed over a megaphone immediately prior to the dispersal.

Police have reportedly banned the services from displaying any West Papuan independence attributes or cultural symbols, and have also banned the mention of the word “merdeka” (freedom) or any mention of the NFRWP, demands for independence or referendum – conditions subject to immediate dispersal if broken.

Up to 1000 people has begun to gather at the pendopo (traditional ceremony hut) at the gravesite of Eluay, when police stormed the gravesite in contempt of traditional customs, and forced people to disperse by pushing people heavily with riot shields.  Participants then regrouped and began to march down the street adjacent to the cemetery.

Early reports have been unable to confirm if any injuries were sustained.  At this stage there have been no reports of live fire being used or casualties.

At last report heated verbal confrontations between organisers and police were occurring, with police being angrily accused of being liars for reneging on their agreement, according to sources on the ground.  Committee organiser Pastor Ketty Yabansabra called on participants to stand firm, stay together, and to not disperse until the event was to be closed with a prayer.  At time of writing the event is currently ongoing.

No updates have yet been received from other venues at this stage.  Significant concerns are held for the service in Serui, who had been threatened with violent dispersal by the head of police on Yapen should strict topics of speech be broken.

More to come – this is a developing story.

West Papua Media