Jakarta – Police have released 54 participants of a Papuan People's Council (MRP) public hearing into Special Autonomy in Papua who were arrested for allegedly committing makar (treason, subversion, rebellion). The arrests took place on Tuesday November 17 while the public hearing was being held in Merauke regency, Papua.
"The participants have been able to return home since 11 am local time because there is still a lack of evidence", said Papua regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Ahmad Musthofa Kamal when sought for confirmation on Thursday November 19.
Kamal explained that although the participants had been sent home, police will still be asking them to write a letter declaring that they would not commit makar.
"The measures by police who arrested and handcuffed several people including Papuan People's Council member Amatus Ndapitis at a hotel was simply to maintain security and to anticipate something undesirable happening", said Kamal.
Earlier, the Merauke district police said that more than 50 of those arrested at the MRP public hearing had been declared suspects on charges of makar. Kamal however has yet to confirm the suspects' status.
Merauke district police chief Assistant Superintendant Untung Suriatna said earlier that the police initially took action because the public hearing failed to pay attention to Covid-19 health protocols.
When police moved in however, several MRP members were found trying to discard documents from the meeting which turned out to contain a complete organisational structure [arising out of] a planned referendum.
"They wanted to shout slogans supporting their referendum. After we investigated, the evidence was the existence of their current president, there were also ministers", said Suriatna when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Thursday.
Suriatna believes that these actions can be categorised as makar and disturbing state security and because of this they will be indicted under Article 104 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).
He said that the gathering was dangerous because it was planning to disrupt the existing administrative structure in Indonesia.
"Record what I'm saying, this was makar because we have a president, there are regents, there are governors, there are Kapolda [district police chiefs], and there are Pangdam [regional military commanders]. Why were they creating a president and all that, that's makar", he said. (mjjo/arh)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kurang Bukti Kasus Makar, Polri Lepas 54 Peserta Rapat MRP".]