Police block protesters near Jayapura, seven arrested in Abepura

Tempo Interactive – April 22, 2008
Protest action in Jayapura (knpbnewsstory)

Jayapura – Some 300 fully armed personal from the Indonesian military (TNI) and the national police (Polri) intercepted three trucks of protesters in the Arso Tujuh area bordering on the Keerom regency and the Jayapura city who were planning to demonstrate in Jayapura today.

According to United West Papua Popular Struggle Front (Pepera) spokesperson Arkilaus Baho, security personnel intercepted the protesters because they were prohibited from demonstrating at the Papua Governor’s office in Dok II. “The security personnel said that only representatives would be allowed to join the peaceful demonstration today”, said Baho on Tuesday April 22.

In the Abepura district of Jayapura meanwhile, seven protesters from Pepera were arrested and are now being questioned by the Jayapura municipal police.

According to Jayapura municipal police chief Senior Deputy Commissioner Robert Djoenso, they were arrested for holding a demonstration without an official permit from the police and for giving political speeches in front of a crowd in Abepura.

“The demonstration was related to issues of state sovereignty. Earlier in fact their [request for] a permit was refused by the police in accordance with law number 9 on protest actions that undermine the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, which are clearly not allowed. But the fact was, they still held the protest”, he said.

According to Baho, the request for a permit to hold a demonstration today was submitted to the police well beforehand. “They were too repressive in intercepting the protesters. Why did they have to be fully armed to do this?”, he asked.

Baho said that the peaceful demonstration and call for a national civil strike was aimed at the governments of Indonesia, Holland, the United States and the United Nations, calling on them to return West Papua’s sovereignty that fell on December 1, 1961, before the Indonesian presidential elections are held in 2009. “We will also be boycotting the 2009 general elections if there is no response to our demands”, he said.

Baho also said that simultaneous peaceful actions were also held by Pepera groups throughout Papua, Java and Bali. “Our members holding a demonstration in Manokwari, West Papua province, were also intercepted by security personnel and not allowed to demonstrate. But in Bali, Jakarta and Yogyakarta the demonstrations went ahead”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski.]