Protest in Bali marking Biak massacre broken up by local group, police

Riau Aktual – July 6, 2019
Protesters scuffle with local group at rally in Denpasar – July 6, 2019 (Riau Aktual)
Protesters scuffle with local group at rally in Denpasar – July 6, 2019 (Riau Aktual)

A demonstration by Papuan students in Bali commemorating 21 years since the “Bloody Biak Incident” was forcibly broken up by Tanjung Bungkak Village Balinese traditional security guards and police on Saturday July 6.

Despite the chaos that ensued and being forced to halt the protest, the students from the Bali City Papua Student Alliance (AMP) were determined to continue holding the action at the Renon Park eastern parking area in the provincial capital of Denpasar.

The action, which began at around 9.30 am was initially going to be held at the US Consulate on Jl Hayam Wuruk in Denpasar. However they were forced to restrict the protest to the Renon eastern parking area.

The Bloody Biak Incident took place on July 6, 1998 in Biak City, Papua.

Action coordinator Yesaya said that during the bloody incident security forces acted excessively against hundreds of people raising the Morning Star flag.

As a consequence, eight people were declared dead, another eight people were declared missing, four others suffered serious injuries and 33 people were arbitrarily arrested.

In addition to this, he said, as many as 150 people were tortured and 32 bodies mysteriously washed up later on the beaches of Papua New Guinea.

“Today exactly 21 years has pasted without there being any resolution to the case and the security forces as the perpetrators of the massacre have never been held accountable”, said Yesaya following the action.

According to Yesaya, protecting the perpetrators of human rights (HAM) violations perpetuates the interests of those exploiting natural resources in Papua.

The massive theft of traditional lands is accompanied by the mass arrest of Papuan activists.

“The military under the control of the state also continues to violate HAM, including committing murder”, he said accusingly.

The demonstration, which involved more than 40 Papuan students, was closely guarded by police.

Denpasar municipal police operations commander I Nyoman Gatra said that the protesters notified police of the demonstration by letter prior to the action.

“In the written notification it said 40 people but more than that came. We as the police are appealing to them here in Bali to join in safeguarding the situation, because Bali is a world tourist destination”, he explained.


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 “Sempat Kisruh, Ternyata ini Tujuan Mahasiswa Papua Demo di Bali”.]