Agus Pabika, Sentani – One person was arrested and scores of others beaten black and blue by a joint unit of police and military when they forcibly broke up a peaceful action by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in the Sentani area of Jayapura regency, Papua, on the morning of Tuesday August 15.
The Jayapura district police (Polres) utilised full force, with assistance from members of the military, in breaking up the action and assaulting the demonstrators.
The protesters were blocked by police at 8.30 am at the Sentani Old Market traffic lights using a crowd control (Dalmas) vehicle and a water cannon along with five KLX motorcycles.
Nopis Esema, the field coordinator for the Sentani area, explained that the joint force of police and military forcibly broke up the KNPB action at 9.55 am.
"Earlier the police used physical violence against us. Some suffered minor injuries but many were seriously injured. Later we will report again after collecting data", said Esema.
During the incident, explained Esema, one protester was arrested and taken to the Jayapura district police station. "Their identity hasn't been confirmed yet. Later we'll give another update [on the situation]", he added.
KNPB Papua spokesperson Ones Suhuniap said they deplored the actions by the police who committed violence against the peaceful demonstrators at Sentani.
"The police committed acts of physical torture, misusing the police's authority as the protectors of people who are conveying an opinion in public, which is guaranteed by Article 28 of Law Number 9/1998", he said.
Suhuniap stated that the police's anarchic behaviour violated the law and labeled the security personnel as being anti-democratic and anti-humanist. "We consider this act of torture as being a crime against humanity", he asserted.
Based on data they have received from the field, Suhuniap revealed that 16 protesters were assaulted by officers from the Jayapura district police when they broke up the action.
"The majority suffered serious blows. Their heads were bleeding. There was quite a lot of blood. This is an act of torture and violence that violates the police's authority", he said.
Suhuniap also mentioned the names of the protesters who were injured. "The ones who were injured are named Eko Passe, Nata Passe and Imer Matuan", he said.
The KNPB demonstration this morning was held to reject the August 15, 1962 New York Agreement between Indonesian and the Netherlands, which became the basis for the annexation of Papua through the 1969 UN sponsored referendum on West Papua's integration with Indonesia known as Pepera, which was illegal and ridden with manipulation.
The action was also held in the context of commemorating August as the month of racism, in reference to an incident on August 16, 2019 in which racist slurs were directed at Papuan students in the East Java city of Surabaya that triggered angry protests and rioting in several Papuan cities.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polisi Pukul Massa Aksi KNPB di Sentani, 16 Orang Luka Berat".]