The insistence by the chief of police in Papua that Buchtar Tabuni, the chairperson of KNPB – the National Committee of West Papua – be held responsible for the KNPB organising two demonstrations instead of just one has led to a response from the KNPB.
The chairperson of the KNPB, Mako Tabuni, said that the organisation will not respond to the summons from the police, whether or not they intend to arrest Buchtar Tabuni, saying that if Buchtar is arrested, they will take strong action again the police.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, 3 April, Mako said that there was no foundation whatever to what the police chief said.
He said that they had been forced to hold their demonstration in two places, in Abepura and in Taman Imbi because the police had failed to acknowledge the organisation’s notification to the police about the forthcoming demonstration.
‘Now, they even want to take proceedings against us.’
He also said that the fact that they intended to carry traditional weapons was simply because they were being used for cultural purposes, as the cultural attributes of the Papuan people.
‘The demonstration is an action regarding our people’s future, and if the police complain that it caused traffic congestion, then we think that the police should behave more professionally. We know that demonstrations take place in other parts of the country, such as in Java and Makasar which have been going on for days and causing traffic jams because they are quite legal. This is a time of demonstrations.(a reference apparently to the many demonstrations currently taking place across Indonesia in protest against the increase in the price of petrol).
‘If we are to be taken to court because we hold demonstrations, then we have to accept that we are not living in a democracy.
‘If we are not allowed to demonstrate, then we will resort o other ways in our calls for a referendum because Indonesia is holding on to West Papua as the result of a process that was illegal.’ [Here the reference is to the so-called act of free choice in 1969.]
He also complained about the media coverage which he said, focussed on things like traffic jams, shops being closed or children being sent home from school, without mentioning the purpose of the demonstration.
‘So if we are denied the space to demonstrate, we will have to resort to other measures .’
He warned the police to consider the consequences of acting like a colonial power, adding that they had no intention of responding to the summons from the police.
He also said that the claim that a journalist was killed during the KNPB demonstration was quite untrue. and was just a trick to denigrate the intentions of the KNPB whenever they organise demonstrations. and an attempt to damage the good relations which the KNPB has had with the local press.for many years.
[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]
- KNPB: Police Chief’s Statement Has No Legal Basis (westpapuamedia.info)
- Rallies reject Indonesian status quo in Papua, and demand referendum (westpapuamedia.info)
- Thousands cram gravesite of Theys to support IPWP (westpapuamedia.info)
- KNPB denies that violence occurred during its demonstrations (westpapuamedia.info)
- Buchtar Tabuni will be held responsible for demos calling for a referendum (westpapuamedia.info)