Nabire youths arrested for cleaning memorial park

By our partners at MAJALAH SELANGKAH in Nabire

28 April 2015

Photo caption text: From left to right, , Marthen Iyai (28 yrs old), Martinus Pigai (17), Anton Pigome (24) detained in the Nabire Police station Tuesday (28/4/15). (Photo: MS)

A BRIMOB Police unit together with Nabire Regional Police on 28 April have arrested three Papuan youths whilst they were cleaning the Papuan Nation’s Flower Park in Ovehe in Nabire town centre, Papua province. Those arrested are Martinus Pigai (aged 17 yrs), Anton Pigome (24 yrs) and Marthen Iyai (28 yrs).

According to arrestee Anton Pigome, speaking with majalahselangkah.com from detention at the Nabire Police station at Tuesday midday: “This morning we were cleaning the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ in Ovehe together with our older people. We were cleaning the park for a church service to mark 100 days since the passing away of Father Nato Gobay (see: Wakil Uskup Timika, Pastor Nato Gobay, Pr Wafat) and at the same time to communicate to the community there regarding Mubes Meepago ( Mubes Miras dan HIV Wilayah Meepago) as planned for 9 or 10 May 2015.  At approximately 8.00 am BRIMOB forces came in a vehicle and ordered us to get into the BRIMOB vehicle. They then took us to the Nabire Police station.”

Anton continued “ We were not beaten at the time of arrest, however we were shocked and confused why we would be arrested. We were just cleaning the park so why would we be arrested?”

Well known Papuan human rights activist Yones Douw said they confronted police. “After we heard the news we went directly to the Police station and demanded the three be released as they had done nothing wrong. They were just cleaning the area for the church service to mark 100 days since the death of Father Nato Gobay” stated Yones.

Yones explained after meeting Deputy Head of the Nabire Police Kompol Albertus Andreana, it had been agreed to release the 3 youths. “ When we momentarily met with the Head of Police earlier I stated that the 3 youth must be released. He had to leave and suggested we speak with the Deputy Head of Police which we did. They have promised to release the 3 this afternoon.”

According to Yones, the Police believed the park was being cleaned in relation to upcoming 1 May activities, being the anniversary of the date Papua was annexed into Indonesia. As that anniversary is now close the National West Papuan Committee (KNPB) has called for demonstrations to be held simultaneously throughout Papua to reject the presence of the Indonesian population in the Land of Papua.(See: Seruan KNPB Menuju 1 Mei 2015).

It needs to be pointed out that the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ is the location of the past offices of the Regional Committee of Community Representatives (DPRD). After the DPRD offices were burnt down and moved to Kelurahan Bumi Wonorejo, the Papuan community used the place as a centre for political expression.

Majalahselanghkah.com noted that back on 1 December 1999 the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ had once been used for a West Papuan Political Ceremony during which two flags were raised on high steel poles with the Papuan Morning Star flag on the right and the Indonesian Red and White flag on the left. Those raised flags were maintained for 8 months before joint armed forces of Police and Indonesian military took them down during what’s become known as ‘Bloody Nabire’ which occurred from 28 February to 4 March 2000. (IRIAN JAYA (WEST PAPUA, NEW GUINEA): THE QUEST FOR INDEPENDENCE–THE RECORD: REPORT ON THE NABIRE SHOOTING SITUATION- 28 February 2000 to 4 March 2000). At that time 3 people were shot dead and others were wounded. Those shot dead were Menase Erari, Maximus Bunai and Wellem Maniwarba. They were buried in the ‘Papuan Nation’s Flower Park’ and to this date the steel pole remains standing there.

Then again on 13 August 2013 there was an incident when access to the park was closed off by joint armed police and military forces (see: Taman Bunga Nabire Dipalang, Sejumlah Tokoh Mengadu ke DPRD). Human rights activists together with well known church and community figures, tribal and customary law leaders pressured DPRD to hold a meeting with the Regional Government, the district Commandant and the Head of Police to return the park to the community. Finally the closure to the park was lifted and until now the community has been able to use the park as a place for political expression.
(Yohanes Kuayo/Yermias Degei/Putri Papua/MS)

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