264 People Arrested Within Two Days For Freedom of Expression

Peoples being arrested in Manokwari - Patrick Tandirerung

Peoples being arrested in Manokwari – Patrick Tandirerung

Jayapura, Jubi – As many as 264 people in Papua and West Papua provinces were arrested by police from 30 April – 1 May for marking the region’s annexation by Jakarta, an activist said.

They were arrested for distributing leaflets and demonstrating to mark the 52nd anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of Papua on May 1 and most of them are youths and students who are members or supporters of the West Papua National Committee and a journalist who was doing reporting,” said #Papuaitukita Movement Coordinator Zelly Arianne.

“For Papuans, 1 May 1963 is a symbol of annexation of West Papua when the Papua’s administrative (West New Guinea at that time) was transferred to Indonesia by United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA). Since then, the people of Papua has marked the day and the response of the government and security forces remains the same: paranoid and repressive,” Arian told Jubi on Monday (4/5/2015).

#papuaitukita Movement considered these arrests, the biggest one since last recent years, are serious violation against the rights to assemble and express aspirations in Papua. This is a form of silencing freedom of expression and lacks of space of democracy in Papua; it even continued to occur since the last ten years of the reform era.


She continued the arrests and tortures of this time were happened systematically and extensively. This is indicated by (1) a large deployment of police officers, (2) occurred in five cities of Papua in two-separated Regional Police’s territorial, (3) it happened simultaneously. Therefore it’s difficult to not make a conclusion that this act was not involved the highest policy maker in security at national level.

Further, this Acehnese human right activist said thee is no reason to arrest and detain people who intend conducting the peace demonstration to reject the West Papua’s Annexation Day on 1 May 2015, since the freedom of expression, voice the opinion and have organization are guaranteed by Constitution and Regulation. Accusing treason towards the civilians and activists who endorse the fulfillment of human rights in Papua has become a military/police’s pattern to silence the criticism.

Zelly Arianne who recently awarded by change.org as Kartini Modern with six women of agents of change added the Indonesian President Joko Widodo must pay attention to this act. The government and law enforcement officers must stop the act to criminalize the critical student activists in Papua.
“The government also needs to open the space for freedom of expression and aspiration peacefully without a threat in Papua. She also reminded the Indonesian Government is still promising the UN Special Rapporteur about the Freedom of Expression and Opinion in the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva in 2012. Public has rights to get the unrestricted information and the truth about the situation happened in Papua,” she firmly said.

Based on the information collected by #papuaitukita, the random arrest and detention of student activists, especially the KNPB’s members and supporters in Jayapura, Nabire, Merauke, Manokwari and Kaimana was occurred on 30 April to 01 May 2015. As many as 264 students were arrested, but they have gradually released after being interrogated. Some of them were tortured during the process of interrogation. And on 2 May 2015, the police arrested 30 more students in Jayapura, but finally been released.
“Based on the information received on 27 April 2015, the Merauke Police Chief Adjunct Senior Commissionaire Sri Satyatama stated the Indonesian Police would not give space to KNPB to perform various activist including collective prayer on 1 May 2015. He would certainly disperse any activities conducted by KNPB,” said Arianne.

Another human right activist Indria Fernida added the police officers also intimidated the KNPB activists, because since 17 April 2015, they came to the secretariat of KNPB Sentani Region and threatened the activists. “During April 2015, the Merauke Police officers have twice raided the secretariat of KNPB Merauke Region and seized its documents. In addition, some black leaflets were circulated among the Merauke residents said KNPB is outlawed organization and people who join the organization are accused as traitor,” said KontraS Jakarta activist Indria Fernida.

According to Fernida, the Manokwari Police officers arrested 12 KNPB members on 30 May when they distributed leaflets to invite people participated in peace demonstration. On 1 May, the local police officers arrested 30 KNPB members and supporters in the front of the Cenderawasih University’s gate in Jayapura.

In Manokwari, 2013 people were arrested from the early morning until noon when the rally was conducted; meanwhile the police dispersed the demonstration and arrested 2 KNPB activists in Kaimana. The police officers also destroyed both KNPB and PRD Kaimana secretariats. In Merauke, the arrest towards KNPB activists was continued. 15 KNPB members and 1 PRD (People Regional Parliament) member of Merauke Region were arrested. In the afternoon, the officers built the police station near the secretariat of KNPB Merauke Region and deployed hundreds of police officers in the station. They also raided the secretariat and seized some banners, posters and documents.

Besides the arrest of KNPB activists and supporters, former Director of the Secretariat of Peace and Justice, Budi Hernawan said journalist of Majalah Selangkah Online in Nabire, Yohanes Kuayo was arrested and handcuffed by Papua Police and Nabire Police Special Forces when doing reportage at RUSD Nabire. He was arrested only on suspicion wearing Free West Papua t-shirt when covered the story on the shooting victims in that hospital,” said Hernawan who currently lecturer in the University of Indonesia and Paramadina University.

Kuayo, according Hernawan, finally was released after the magazine’s Editor in Chief came and protested the act of police officers.
“Up to 3 May 2015, the police officers have released all the prisoners except one in Manokwari. On the other hand, this incident was escaped from media, so the public’s right for information has been ignored,” Hernawan said. (Benny Mawel/rom)

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