Police break up peaceful actions in Central Papua, scores of activists injured

Suara Papua – April 5, 2024
Nabire police blockade FRPHAMP activists at Karang Tumaritis Market – April 5, 2024 (SP)

Jayapura – Peaceful demonstrations by the Meepago people in Nabire, the capital of Central Papua province, on the morning of Friday April 5, were forcibly broken up by officers from the Nabire district police. A number of protesters were reportedly injured, some of whom were rushed to Nabire regional pubic hospital.

The protesters held actions at at least five points, namely in front of the Karang Tumaritis Market, in front of the Siriwini regional hospital, the SP 1 West Nabire intersection, the Satya Wiyata Mandala University (USWIM) campus and in front of the Jepara II Wadio Hotel, all of which were forcibly dispersed by security forces.

A source from Nabire reported that when they were dispersed, the protesters from the Papua Human Rights People's Front of Concern (FRPHAMP) were also beaten with batons while teargas was fired by police.

"The action was a peaceful action, but the security forces were vicious, they dispersed us, fired [warning] shots, hit and chased us. There was no space at all. Yet on April 3, a letter of notification was delivered to the Nabire Polres [district police]. The aim of the action was to convey the aspirations of the people regarding the heinous actions by TNI [Indonesian military] soldiers in abusing civilians in Puncak district which was a case of a human rights violation", the source explained.

But, said the source, the security forces did not give them the slightest room to move. The protesters were repressed and forcibly dispersed.

A FRPHAMP spokesperson reported that the protesters who had gathered in front of the Karang Tumaritis Market were forcibly dispersed using violence and teargas. Even though there were negotiations, the police went ahead and broke up the demonstration. At around 8.50 am the protesters were forced to disperse.

Likewise in front of Nabire regional pubic hospital. At least 16 people were forcibly taken to Nabire district police station. One of them suffered serious injuries to the head while others suffered minor injuries.

Protesters in front of the Jepara II Wadio Hotel were also blockaded by police. The protesters were then forcibly dispersed using teargas and warning shots. One person suffered a serious eye injury and four others were also badly hurt. Two people were taken away in a police vehicle. Following this, the protesters and security personnel threw things at each other.

At the SP 1 intersection, a teenager named Opinus Japugau was seriously injured when the demonstration was broken up by police. The victim was a grade 3 student from the Nabire state junior high school. Some of the crowd scatted in chaos and were chased into the forest.

In front of the USWIM Nabire campus, the protesters held their ground when they were about to be dispersed by a joint force of military and police.

The peaceful actions by the FRPHAMP, which were in response to acts of violence by TNI in Puncak district, did not take place according to the initial plan as demonstrators at a number of gathering points were forcibly dispersed.

They had also planned to convey their aspirations in front of the Central Papua governor's office. Unfortunately, this was canceled because it was blockaded and they were repressed by security forces.

Demonstrators from several points attempted to gather again after earlier scattering in chaos when they were dispersed by teargas and warning shots fired into the air.

A number of protesters coming from the direction of the USWIM campus in Kalibobo moved off towards the city until they arrived at Jalan Merdeka, not far from the Central Papua governor's office.

They then sat on the road under the direction of the coordinator while negotiating with security forces. However efforts to negotiate failed and the crowd scattered as the authorities again fired teargas.

At the same time, protesters coming from the direction of Wadio who were moving towards the governor's office were also blocked midway.

The FRPHAMP said they were very disappointed with the state's restrictive actions through the security forces. As a result, today's peaceful action plan failed to be implemented as planned.

The situation was somewhat different from usual. The protesters were totally unable to express their aspirations. Nabire in the eyes of the FRPHAMP has completely closed off democratic space for the ordinary people.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Direpresif Aparat Kepolisian, Sejumlah Massa Aksi di Nabire Terluka".]

Source: https://suarapapua.com/2024/04/05/direpresif-aparat-kepolisian-sejumlah-massa-aksi-di-nabire-terluka/