Adi Briantika – A group of Papuan students in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Jakarta, who were planning to hold a protest action opposing the extension of Papuan Special Autonomy (Otsus), were arrested and taken to the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters on Wednesday January 27.
"Around 15 people were taken away and put into a police crowd control vehicle", one of the participants, Ambrosius Mulait, told Tirto.
Mulait – a former political prisoner jailed for treason – said he did not know the reason for the arrest because the group had not yet arrived at the rally location when the arrests took place.
Two days ago, said Mulait, the group sent a written notification of the action to police, but the police did not issue a permit for the demonstration. He suspects that this was the reason for the arrest – as well as the pretext of Covi-19 health protocols which prohibit crowds from gathering.
Although they tried to negotiate with the police to be allowed to demonstrate, this did not bear fruit.
Mulait and the other participants who were not arrested are still being held in front of the parliament under police guard.
"How can Papuans convey their right to an opinion opposing Otsus, but are always silenced. Today we were silenced", he said.
A similar incident occurred on October 27, 2020 when demonstrators near the Cenderawasih University in Jayapura, Papua, were dispersed and 13 arrested.
Action coordinator Mani Iyaba said that based on directives issued by the Jayapura district police, "Any protesters can be beaten, trampled underfoot".
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "15 Demonstran Tolak Otsus Papua Jilid II Ditangkap di Kompleks DPR".]