Jakarta – A rally by protesters from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) in Jayapura, Papua, was forcibly and violently broken up by police on Monday August 16. Two people were injured after being allegedly struck by rattan sticks.
"When they arrived there the protesters were immediately blocked by police, the protesters tried to negotiate with senior police officers. But they were given no latitude, then they were beaten by rattan sticks, there were some who were hit in the head, two people were injured", said Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) Director Emanuel Gobay when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Monday.
Gobay said that the two protesters who were allegedly beaten by police were KNPB Chairperson Agus Kossay and another protester named Alfa Hisage.
Gobay explained that the KNPB had submitted a written notification of the action with the Jayapura district police on August 13, but police refused to issue a receipt for the notification.
According to Gobay, the protesters decided to continue the demonstration but they were blocked by police when they were marching in the direction of the Perumnas III housing complex in Jayapura.
Gobay said the KNPB protesters were prohibited from holding the demonstration. They had tried to negotiate with police prior to the incident.
"Following this, from the taxi roundabout they entered the Yahukimo student dormitory. They then treated their injuries themselves", he said.
Furthermore, said Gobay, police remained on guard at the dormitory until late afternoon. In the end, the demonstrators decided to disband.
"At today's action, the majority, that I can conclude, it was their democratic space that fell victim. Meanwhile regarding their freedom in the context of being detained, none of them have been detained", he explained.
Gobay added that simultaneous actions were planned to be held at several points in Jayapura and Yahukimo but they were unable to go ahead because they were blocked by police.
According to Gobay, the main demand being taken up by the actions was the unconditional release of Papuan activist Victor Yeimo who is being held on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion).
Yeimo, is who reportedly ill, has been detained at the Papua regional police Mobile Brigade command headquarters detention centre since his arrest in May for alleged makar.
There has yet to be an official explanation from police on the forced dispersal of the protest action in Jayapura.
CNN Indonesia has attempted to contact Jayapura city municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Gustav R Urbinas and Papua regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Ahmad Ramadhan but has yet to receive a response. (mjo/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polisi Bubarkan Demo di Jayapura, 2 Orang Dipukul Kepala".]