West Papua pro-independence activists arrested for distributing leaflets

Suara Papua – November 25, 2013
Arrested KNPB activists alight from police truck (KNPB Docs)
Arrested KNPB activists alight from police truck (KNPB Docs)

Arnold Belau, Papuan, Jayapura – As many as 16 members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) were arrested earlier this afternoon by the Jayapura municipal police (polresta) when they were handing out leaflets about a planned demonstration to take place throughout the land of Papua tomorrow.

The goals of the planned demonstration were to support the opening of a Free Papua Movement (OPM) office in Port Moresby on December 1, supporting a meeting between the International Parliament for West Papua (IPWP) and the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) in Port Moresby on November 25-28 and to support a planned visit to Jakarta and Papua by foreign affairs ministers and representatives of countries that make up the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG)/

When sought for confirmation, KNPB national spokesperson Wim Rocky Medlama said that the 16 had been arrested in Padang Bulan, Abepura at around 3.15. “That’s correct. Earlier as many as 16 of our members were arrested by police from the Jayapura City polresta”, said Medlama.

Medlama said they are fed up with the police’s actions, which are arrogant and excessive. “This is too excessive. And I think that the police have much to learn. So that they undertake their duties in accordance with the orders”, he said angrily.

Meanwhile the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS) Papua, Olga Hamadi said that the police’s actions were excessive and the pattern of arrests should stop.

“I’ve only just heard this information. I think that the police are too excessive. Patterns of arrests such as this should no longer be necessary. This is included under the rights of each person to express themselves. Moreover this is a democratic country right”, she said in an SMS message sent to Suara Papua this evening.

Hamadi added that people expressing their views should not be attacked and arrested. “They should be given space. The issue of expressing views in public should not be responded to with arrests and law enforcement. If [the police] are going to be like this it won’t solve the Papuan problem”, said Hamadi.

When sought for confirmation by Suara Papua meanwhile, Jayapura municipal police chief Assistant Superintendent Alfred Papare denied that the 16 KNPB members had been arrest for distributing leaflets. “There were no arrests”, wrote Papare.

Papare instead responded by asking questions in a threatening tone, “Who said that there were arrests earlier. And do did you [actually] see it or not”, he said to media journalists via an SMS message.

Based on information gathered by Suara Papua, the 16 were arrested earlier this afternoon and taken to the Jayapura municipal police station were the leaflets were confiscated by police. Following this they were returned home.

[16 Aktivis KNPB Ditangkap Saat Bagi Selebaran – Suarapapua.com. November 25, 2013. Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]