Indonesian security forces conduct violent sweeps, detain scores ahead of mass demos in Jayapura for May 1

West Papua Media

May 1 2013

Indonesian police and army units have conducted heavily armed security sweeps across Jayapura ahead of mass demonstrations to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua.

Thousands of members of civil society organisations are today converging on Jayapura, West Papua, to hold the demonstrations, however, reports from West Papua Media stringers on the ground in Jayapura have documented a series of brutal raids to prevent public participation in the planned rallies.

Led by a coalition of pro-independence networks including activists from the National Federated Republic of West Papua (NFRPB) and the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), the demonstrations are intended to “show a peaceful expression of continued and universal opposition to Indonesia’s colonial violence against indigenous West Papuans,” and continue to call for self-determination for Papua’s people, a basic human right now denied by Indonesia with the May 1 50-year anniversary of Papua’s annexation, according to organisers from the NFRPB.

Organisers have also called for rolling and widespread strikes, particularly amongst Papuan members of the Indonesian civil service, and for Papuan university and high school student to join the rallies and use May 1 as a “public holiday for West Papuan people’s future”.

The raids began at 0300 (3am local time) on April 30, after the new Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe endorsed a decision by Chief of the (Indonesian) Papua Police, the Australian-trained former head of the notorious counter-terror unit Detachment 88, Inspector General Tito Karnavian, to criminalise all public gatherings for May 1.  Karnavian made significant public statements in both Indonesian and Papuan press saying that he will not tolerate dissent to be publicly expressed today, despite this ban being a breach of the of freedoms of expression and association guaranteed under the Indonesian Constitution.

Police have announced to Jayapura residents and rally organisers, that if demonstrations occur, Police will first attempt to use persuasion to disperse the approach of rally participants, and if rally participants ignored persuasion, then they would use force and “destroy” any gatherings.

Organisers have reported that on top of the extra thousand heavily armed police announced by Karnavian, hundreds of heavily armed plain clothes special forces police and soldiers have arrived in the city, with most moving around on motorbikes.  In addition, hundreds of soldiers from the Indonesian Army (TNI) were yesterday witnessed riding on motorbikes whilst in full battle kit in a clear show of force and intimidation against Papuan civilians.

Several student dormitories housing rally delegates from various centres across Papua were raided by heavily armed police on April 30, allegedly including Australian-trained members of the counter-terror Detachment 88 attached to the Jayapura ResKrim (Criminal Investigation Branch), as part of a sweep to capture key organiser and West Papua National Authority Manokwari Governor Markus Yenu.  In one raid, police from ResKrim detained for 15 hours an elderly former political prisoner named Alfred Kapisa (72), beat, interrogated and subjected him to violence, because according to human rights sources, he was found with a rally flyer on his kitchen table and was suspected of being involved as an organiser.

A raid on the Manokwari student dormitory at 1442 local time, where Yenu was present with the Manokwari rally delegations, ended with police left empty-handed after the students told the police that the delegation were the student’s official guests.

After Yenu and the Manokwari delegation moved to the Mamberamo dormitory, the Abepura police chief allegedly pressured the Chairman of the GKI (Indonesian Christian Church) Synod Alberth Yocku to issue an eviction demand for delegates to vacate the dormitories, managed by the GKI.   A platoon and several carloads of heavily armed Police then arrived in the courtyard of the dormitories, and gave the delegates an hour to vacate, upon threat of arrest.  The GKI had often come under criticism from Papuan civil society, churches and even Papuan politicians in the Indonesian parliament as being no more than a puppet of Jakarta.

Meanwhile, Indonesian civil society organisation National Papua Solidarity (NAPAS) has condemned the Papuan police decision to ban public dissent, saying in a statement that the ban “represents a reactive, paranoid and discriminative approach of the Indonesian government that limits the exercise of the civil and political rights of Papuans.”

“Furthermore, the decision would undermine the existing processes and initiatives to find a peaceful solution for Papua conflicts,” NAPAS coordinator Zely Ariane said in the statement.

“The ban to commemorate the 50th anniversary event illustrates the Indonesian government position that aims to monopolies the interpretation of Papuan history for the sake of the state, not for Papuans,” Ariane said.

“When both the Governor of Papua and the Chief of Police of Papua deliberately ban any activities of Papuans to commemorate this historic moment, history repeats itself. Papuan’s rights of free speech of free speech and freedom of movement and of assembly were not protected and guaranteed then and now. Therefore, we question both the local authorities in Papua and the national authorities of Indonesia whether they treat Papuans as citizens or just inhabitants,” said Ariane.

Credible sources in Jayapura have reported to West Papua Media that members of the military and police are very wary of KNPB involvement in the 50 year anniversary demonstrations, after these sources spoke with Kopassus officers posing as ojek (motorbike taxi) drivers.  Indonesian security forces have long blamed KNPB members for major acts of violence including “unknown persons” (OTK) shootings, though no credible evidence has ever been proven.

However, organisers have reported to West Papua Media that consolidation and planning meetings for today’s commemorations were held between all participant components of Papuan civil resistance, and successfully developed an understanding for joint action, highlighting the goals of Negotiations, Referendum and Recognition as three points of an agreed campaign pathway agenda.  Additionally, all components have reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful actions and non-violence as a strategy for all civil resistance mobilisation.

Activists are pressing on with their plans to hold rallies and commemorate today’s anniversary.  Whilst activists are expecting a violent police response, they are prepared with a diversity of civil resistance and non-violence tactics to maximise the strategic backfire on Indonesian security forces.

Reports from the ground in Jayapura have detailed fears of a major escalation in repression by security forces.  Currently over a thousand police have illegally set up a camp on the Papuan land that is the gravesite of Indonesian assassinated Papuan independence hero Theys Eluay.  Human rights sources have expressed concern that this military occupation of one of Papua’s most important sacred site for self-determination and freedom expression is a deliberate provocation by the military to create outrage and potential violence in public gatherings today.

Elsewhere in Papua, unconfirmed reports have emerged from Sorong that a May 1 rally being held there has already been forcefully broken up by police.  Human rights sources have reported that two civilians, Tomas Blesia and Abner Malagawak were shot dead, and Salomina Klaibin and Herman Lokden were wounded by security force gunfire, reportedly as people gathered peacefully for the rally.  Conflicting reports have claimed that the victims were members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN), but West Papua Media has not been able to independently verify this claim.

More updates will appear on West Papua Media throughout the day, and urgent breaking news will be available on our Twitter feed @westpapuamedia. 

Note: Journalists needing comment or contact numbers for speakers inside Papua are encouraged to call the West Papua Editorial team on +61401222177.    This contact is bilingual in English and Bahasa Indonesia.  The Coordinating Editor can be reached intermittently throughout the day on +61450079106, but not for immediate comment.

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