Papuan dormitory attacked in Surabaya, protesters in Ternate assaulted

CNN Indonesia – August 16, 2019
Scene outside Papuan dormitory in Surabaya – August 16, 2019 (CNN)
Scene outside Papuan dormitory in Surabaya – August 16, 2019 (CNN)

Jakarta – The Papuan student dormitory in the Kalasan area of the East Java city of Surabaya was besieged by hundreds of people from various ormas (mass or social organisations) on the afternoon of Friday August 16.

Based on CNN Indonesia’s observations, out of the hundreds of people gathered in front of the dormitory, there were several who appeared to be from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Pancasila Youth (PP). The majority however wore ordinary clothing.

One group among the crowd loudly sang a song which was directed at the occupants of the dormitory. “Slaughter, slaughter, slaughter Papua, slaughter Papua now”, they screamed repeatedly.

A representative of one of the groups, Muhammad, claimed that they arrived after seeing a photograph of a flag pole bearing the red-and-white national flag that had been vandalised by the Papuan students. The photo itself, said Muhammad, was circulated on social media groups.

“On one group (WhatsApp) the red-and-white flag [pole] had been snapped in several places then thrown into a ditch, this was visible from the flag pole, I saw it on the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] Lovers Alliance group”, said Muhammad at the location.

After seeing the photo, said Muhammad, they immediately rushed to the Papuan student dormitory. Upon arriving in front of the dormitory at around 2pm however, they found that the flag pole had been put up again.

Muhammad however was not satisfied. “Is it right that our flag was thrown into a ditch”, he said.

Papuan student spokesperson Dorlince Iyowau meanwhile said that the incident began when several security personnel and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officials arrived at the dormitory at around 3.20 pm and vandalised the dormitory’s fence.

“At 3.20 pm soldiers arrived in front of the dormitory, followed by Satpol PP, then they vandalised the entire fence. They abused us with racist words”, said Iyowau when contacted by phone.

Not long after this, continued Iyowau, a crowed arrived and pelted the dormitory with stones smashing several windows.

“They’re trying to break down the front and back doors of the Papuan dormitory. We’re locked inside the auditorium. So far the ormas, soldiers and Satpol PP haven’t got in. They’re still outside the gates”, said Iyowau.

Hundreds of people and police officers can still be seen milling around in front of the dormitory and Jl. Kalasan has been closed and cleared of all traffic.

CNN Indonesia has attempted to contact East Java regional police public relations chief Senior Commissioner Frans Barung but have not yet received a response.

Mass action in Ternate

Separately, a group of protesters form the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) were assaulted by police and TNI (Indonesian military) personnel as they were holding an action in the North Maluku city of Ternate on Thursday August 15.

FRI-WP North Maluku spokesperson Arbi M Nur said that the incident began when they were holding an action in front of the Barito Market in Ternate city.

All of a sudden a number of uniformed and plain clothed police officers arrived along with TNI personnel and forcibly broke up the demonstration.

“That was yesterday at around 4.30 pm local time, we were forced to disburse. Violence was committed, everyone was beaten all over their bodies”, said Nur when contacted on Friday August 16.

Moreover, continued Nur, one of the participants was almost knocked uncurious after being hit by an officer. He claimed that they had already asked security personnel to give the protesters room to disband by themselves but the request was ignored.

“We told them that we would disband and asked to be given room to leave. But we were assaulted then taken away by police in a pickup truck”, he said.

Nur claimed that they had earlier submitted a written notification of the action with police but the request was rejected without any clear grounds.

Nur said that the action was initially intended to commemorate the New York agreement between the Netherlands and the United Indonesian Republic (RIS) on August 15, 1962, which ended in Papua being incorporated into Indonesia.

According to Nur, the agreement which discussed the future of West Papua did not involve a single Papuan person. “We want the RIS to be held responsible for the agreement”, he said.

Similar actions commemorating the New York agreement were held in several other parts of the country including Jakarta, the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya, the Central Java capital of Semarang and the Central Java cities of Salatiga and Yogyakarta. “Only in Yogyakarta [was the protest] not broken up”, Nur said. (frd/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Asrama Papua di Surabaya Digeruduk Massa Beratribut FPI”.]