Denpasar – The Bali City Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) visited at the Bali Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in the Balinese provincial capital of Denpasar on Tuesday afternoon, July 7.
They held an audience and a press conference to straighten out an incident in which a peaceful demonstration that they held in the Renon area of Denpasar on Monday July 6 was forcibly broken up by police.
During yesterday’s peaceful action, some 25 protesters were sprayed with water from a water cannon in order to force them to disperse.
The AMP said that they consider the police’s actions excessive. AMP member Sanchez explained that the action, which he held along with his comrades, had fulfilled the regulations.
They had already sent a written notification about the action to the East Denpasar sectoral police as well as the Denpasar municipal police. During the action he and his comrades also maintained social distancing in accordance with Covid-19 protocols.
But right from the start of the action, the police began harassing them in an excessive manner. Several police officers forcibly confiscated posters and banners that they had brought with them.
Yesterday’s peaceful action by the AMP was held to commemorate the Bloody Biak tragedy which took place 22 years ago. To this day, the case has never been resolved by Indonesia, yet the incident claimed the lives of hundreds of Papuan people.
“We had already given police a written notification. But around one hour into the action, our banners were confiscated. And then all of a sudden we and the other comrades were sprayed by a water cannon. Many of our comrades were flung to the ground because the water pressure was very high”, said Sanchez during the press conference.
Bali City AMP Committee Chairperson Jeeno meanwhile explained that he and his comrades faced difficulties from the start of the planned action. He also criticised the many parties that always label him and his comrades a separatist group.
“From the start we were obstructed. Starting from when we handed over the notification, we were labeled separatists. If we don’t run up against the police then we clash with ormas [mass or social organisations] when we hold actions (demos). Like not long ago. We’re always labeled separatists”, said Jeeno.
According to Jeeno the police behaved excessively when they forcibly broke up the action which was not causing any problems. Being sprayed by a water cannon and the violence by police when they broke up the action was not in accordance with what the AMP was fighting for.
“We were sprayed using a water cannon, this was inappropriate given what we’re fighting for. Cases of HAM [human rights] violations like Bloody Biak are serious crimes against humanity. Hundreds of Papuan people died. Dead bodies were sprawled everywhere”, he asserted. (rb/mar/mus/JPR)
On July 6, 1998, scores of West Papuans in the main town of Biak island were wounded, arrested or killed when the Indonesian military launched a dawn attack on people who had staged a peaceful demonstration over several days calling for independence from Indonesia. Some were shot on the spot while many others were taken onto Indonesian naval boats and thrown into the ocean before their mutilated bodies washed up on Biak’s shores over following days.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Dicap Separatis, AMP: Tidak Seberapa dengan Apa yang Kami Perjuangkan”.]