from the West Papua Media team
May 23, 2012
After tens of thousands of Papuans staged mass rallies across West Papua in May 1, 2012, a radical change of tactics by Indonesian security forces has ignited fears in the civilian population throughout the region, according to Papuan peace and justice activists. Serui, the main town on Yapen Island (off the north coast of Papua) has become a “hot spot” for major military and police operations using intimidation and terror tactics against the local Papuans, local sources told West Papua Media on Wednesday.
On May 23, a peaceful demonstration organised by activists from Manokwari (on the mainland) and Serui was held to express people’s concern about intensifying Police brutality against civilians.
This month, many unconfirmed reports from local activists have documented a steady increase in fear and trauma by the civilian population across Yapen Island stemming from security operations. Mass rallies have been held to protest the situation but according to organisers, the rallies – expected to number thousands of participants – were not well attended because the extreme violent confrontational policies of the security forces caused many people to stay home due to fear. Unconfirmed reports from local stringers told West Papua Media that for several days leading up to the demonstrations, shots were fired at night to threaten the locals.
The rally organisers were not permitted to rally but the demonstrators audaciously braved police threats to express their concerns, according to sources in Serui. Before the rally began at 9am local time, a joint-force Indonesian Police and Army (TNI) conducted a search/interrogation operation, targeting every Papuan who passed through from Mantembu to the gathering place.
Despite heavy security blockades in place preventing many from attending, the demonstration proceeded smoothly from 10am to 1pm local time with up to 1000 people defying Indonesian occupation forces threats of violence..
Amongst the demonstrators, Selpinus Waroy (30) was arrested after the police took his mobile phone and found images and video footage of prior mass rallies. Police told the organisers that he was to be released by 7pm local time but Waroy had not been released when the article went to press.
The West Papua Media team telephoned Kapolres (Serui Police Chief) Roycke Harry Langie several times for comment, but the Kapolres said that he was not convinced that the call was made from Australia but instead was from Indonesia. He refused to comment on any questions and hung up.
Marthen Manggaprouw, one of the organisers of the peaceful demonstration, expressed his deepest concern about the Indonesian security forces’ ongoing vicious conduct.
“Even though, the Indonesian military and police continue to intimidate us; continue to terrorize us; we will continue to raise our voices and exercise our democratic right through peaceful means to show the security forces to learn about respecting Papuans as human beings and not animals.”
The demonstrators called for the DPRD office in Yapen District to seriously consider the Indonesian Police’s atrocious behaviour and expel the Head of Police, in Serui Regency, Royce Harry Langie S.IK MH, and the District Military Commander (DANDIM), Letkol Inf. Tornado, for violations of the Code of Conduct with the Indonesian military and police regulations.
They also demand the recognition of the Federated Republic of West Papua, declared at the Third Papuan’s Congress, October 19, 2011 and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners, and release of the ‘Jayapura Five.’