Government accused of acting 'brutally' against Papuan protesters

CNN Indonesia – May 18, 2022
Papua activists hold protest action at Horse Statue in Central Jakarta – August 15, 2017 (CNN)

Jakarta – The University of Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM UI) believes that the state has been acting repressively against indigenous Papuans protesting against the creation of new autonomous regions (DOB) in Papua.

This can be seen from the state ignoring the brutal actions of police against a protest action on May 10 in Jayapura. These brutal actions included violence, abduction, arbitrary arrest and even the use of rubber bullets when police forcibly broke up rallies.

"The concrete evidence is that the state still acts repressively in responding to public expression which is marked by brutal acts carried out by the police against the public", said the BEM UI on their official Twitter account @BEMUI_Official on Tuesday May 17.

The BEM UI believes that demonstrations are something which is legitimate and constitutional according to Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution.

Under this article, it state that citizens' and the population's right to association and assembly and to express ideas verbally and in writing is guaranteed by the state.

"In the stipulations of the constitution, guarantees are clearly found for all citizens to safely express views and opinions without the threat of violence, intimidation or being silenced in other ways", they said.

In addition to being contained in the constitution, guarantees of the freedom of expression are also regulated under Article 23 Paragraph 2 of Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights.

This article states that the public has the right to freedom of opinion and expression so long as it is related to the interests and integrity of the nation.

In addition to this, Indonesia has also ratified the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) through Article 19 of Law Number 12/2005.

"It states that everyone is free to express a view without interference as well has having the freedom to express an opinion through any kind of instrument", they said.

The BEM UI however says that the reality is that the state still stand back and watches the use of violence and threats against citizens expressing an opinion.

"[These are] actions which conflict with legislation and regulations which are in force, as well as violating human rights", they said.

The BEM UI is of the view that the state should take firm measures against police officers who are proven to have committed violence. They are also calling for the immediate release of protesters who have been arrested.

"Along with withdrawing police troops in order to stop repressive acts against the public", the group said.

CNN Indonesia has tried to contact Papua regional police chief Inspector General Mathius Fakhiri in order to get a response but as of this article being published, Fakhiri has not responded.

Earlier Papua activist and former political prisoner Ambrosius Mulait said that a participant of a protest action in Jayapura against new autonomous regions in Papua was shot with a rubber bullet.

The victim was Cenderawasih University (Uncen) Economics Faculty Student Representative Council Chairperson Fred Nawipa. (yla/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "BEM UI Sebut Aparat Brutal pada Penolak Daerah Otonomi Baru di Papua".]