Nationalist groups backed by police break up Biak massacre commemoration

Teras Bali News – July 6, 2019
Police break up commemoration of Biak massacre in Bali – July 6, 2019 (Teras Bali)
Police break up commemoration of Biak massacre in Bali – July 6, 2019 (Teras Bali)

Denpasar – A commemoration of 21 years since the “Bloody Biak Tragedy” in West Papua by the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) in the Balinese provincial capital of Denpasar on Saturday July 6 has ended in chaos.

The action was forcibly broken up by pecalang (Balinese traditional security guards) and the groups Garuda Nusantara Patriots (PGN) and the Defenders of the Motherlands Unity (Pekat) Indonesia Unite.

“You shouldn’t create a scene here, Bali is a tourist area which needs peace and quiet”, one of the Pekat members shouted at the protesters at the Renon Park East Bajra Sandhi parking area in Denpasar.

The situation became heated when the AMP protesters resisted, with the opposing groups pushing and shoving each other. Police, who had been guarding the action from the start appealed to all the parties to restrain themselves.

The protesters had initially planned to continue the demonstration at the Denpasar Renon traffic circle, not far from the US Consulate. But after being forcibly broken up, the action ended up being held at the East Bajra Sandhi parking area.

Denpasar municipal police operations commander I Wayan Gatra explained that this was not the first time that the AMP has held protests and their demands were not very different from previous actions.

“If in relation to the law on expressing a view they have actually violated it, under Paragraph 6 point 5, it’s prohibited to articulate what’s called anti-unity, there must be NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] there. Seeing this, we the police were able to act firmly”, said Gatra. (awd)


Biak Massacre – On July 6, 1998, in Biak Island’s main town, Indonesian military units launched a dawn attack on Papuans who had been staging peaceful demonstrations over several days. 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 “Unjuk Rasa Mahasiswa Papua Dibubarkan Paksa”.]