Police arrested 54 participants of a public hearing organised by the Papuan People's Council (MPR) at the Valentine Hotel in Merauke regency in Papua on the afternoon of Tuesday November 17.
They were arrested for alleged makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) yet the public hearing was actually a discussion evaluating the implementation of Law Number 21/2001 on Special Autonomy (Otsus) in Papua.
Merauke district police chief Assistant Superintendant Untung Suriatna explained the chronology leading up to the arrest of the participants which included those attending the public hearing as well as members of the MPR.
Initially, police wanted to break up the public hearing because the organisers did not apply health protocols. But during the investigation, the police found out that there was a participant who tried to throw a document out of the hotel.
"First the event violated health protocols, but suddenly in the (process) of checking and rechecking there was a document which was thrown out, it was a yellow book", said Suriatna when contacted by phone on Wednesday November 18.
The police searched for the book. When it was found it turned out to contain the basic guidelines for the West Papua Federal Republic. The book, which contained the name of the president of the West Papua Federal Republic, was used as material evidence by police of alleged makar.
"There was the name of the president, there's material evidence in the form of a book, there's [also] a laptop which we are still holding", he said.
54 people arrested
Based on these findings, the police secured 54 people including participants attending the meeting and MRP members who were then taken in for questioning. While in detention, said Suriatna, they behaved well and have now been sent home.
"Yesterday we detained them all in the context of taking data, we examined their health, we served them food and drink, we gave them a place to sleep, they were detained in the auditorium and given good quality military beds", he said.
Earlier on Sunday November 15, an entourage of MRP members also wanted to hold a public hearing to discuss an evaluation of the Papua Special Autonomy law in Jayawijaya regency.
Their arrival at the Wamena airport however was opposed by a group of people who prevented them from leaving the arrival hall. The entourages of MRP members were held at the airport for six hours until they were finally forced to return to Jayapura on Sunday afternoon. (KOMPAS.com/Dhias Suwandi)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ditangkap karena Dugaan Makar, Awalnya Peserta RDP Otsus Papua Dibubarkan karena Langgar Protokol Kesehatan".]