Two West Papuan pro-independence activists arrested, severely beaten

Suara Papua – August 8, 2014
Police arrest West Papua activist (Undated)
Police arrest West Papua activist (Undated)

Arnold Belau, Papuan, Jayapura -- Two members of the Manokwari district West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Robert Helemaken (17) and Oni Weya (21) were arrested and severely beaten by Manokwari city municipal police on August 8.

The incident occurred at 3.30pm local time in front of Block 4 of the Bumi Marina complex next to the Manokwari Pentecostal Indonesian Christian Church (GKI). When sought for confirmation by Suara Papua earlier this afternoon, KNPB Manokwari spokesperson Sarpas Mbisikmbo confirmed the incident.

“That’s correct, two KNPB members were arrested and beaten by TNI/Polri [Indonesian military/Indonesian police] at around 3.30 West Indonesian time earlier today. They were detained while carrying out the KNPB’s agenda, namely writing graffiti about boycotting August 17 [Independence Day celebrations] throughout the city of Manokwari”, said Mbisikmbo.

According to Mbisikmbo, security personnel were violent in a very inhuman way, both when they detained them and after they were held at the police station. “We checked on the two at the police station, where they’re being held. Their condition was quite a shock. Because they hadn’t just been beaten, but security personnel had mistreated our friends”, he explained.

Mbisikmbo said that Weya’s condition was very critical, his lip was split and swollen, his chin swollen, there was a lump on his forehead and his eyes were swollen and he was unable see. When he was arrested Weya was also beaten with a rifle butt and repeatedly kicked in the chest, which is still painful. Meanwhile Helemaken’s lip was split, his face swollen and his chest painful after being kicked and beaten by rifle butts.

When sought for confirmation, national KNPB spokesperson Bazoka Logo said he was very angry over the brutal actions by security personnel because they had arrested and treated the two KNPB Manokwari members improperly.

“Security personnel have a lot to learn. They [the KNPB activists] did nothing but were arrested and brutally beaten. The KNPB has never committed criminal acts. But we continue to be hunted down and arrested without any clear grounds”, he said. “This is our land. This is our home. Being arrested, beaten and jailed has become normal for us. But, the KNPB will not stay silent. We will continue to struggle for our self-determination”, Logo told the media.

When contacted by phone, Manokwari city police chief Assistant Superintendent Johni Edison Isir declined to give a response. There was also no answer to several SMS message sent to his mobile.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]