Arnold Belau, Jayapura – As many as 96 activists from the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) in Ternate, North Maluku, were arrested after police forcibly broke up a rally in front of the Barito Market.
A Suara Papua source from Ternate said that the FRI-WP action was closed down by police and intel (intelligence) officers and the demonstrators forced into trucks as they were about to begin protesting in front of the Barito Market.
The source said that several activists were dragged and assaulted as they were forced into the truck. “Several comrades who were at the action were dragged and forced to get into a truck by police and intel in Ternate”, they said.
The source said that as many as 99 people were arrested, 12 of which were from West Papua and the remainder activists from FRI-WP. One of the protesters had to be rushed home because they were experiencing breathing difficulties.
“One of the people had difficulty breathing and was rushed home. 12 people were from Papua and the rest from Ternate. Currently they are being taken to Polres [district police station]”, they said.
Ternate district police Tactical Police Unit head (kasat sabhara) M. Aninab was quoted by semarak.news.com as saying that the protesters will be taken to the Ternate district police station.
“We will take them to Polres, question them. If in the process of delving into the matter it is discovered that they committed a violation then they will be charged, but we will bear in mind that are still young and [they should be] given guidance”, he said.
Earlier, the protesters sent a written notification of the action to the Ternate district police but it was rejected with police saying that the planned action was subversive (maker).
Upon arriving at the Ternate district police station they will be registered and those who originate from Papua will be separated from those from North Maluku.
FRI-WP is demanding that the Indonesian government resolve human rights violations in Papua and that the Papuan people be given the freedom to hold a referendum to determine their own future.
December 1, 1961 marks the embryonic birth of the West Papuan state. Every December 1, West Papuan people throughout the world commemorate the date as Independence Day.
On December 19, 1961 the Papuan state was dissolved by Indonesia with the declaration of the Trikora operation by founding president Sukarno’s in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta.
Suara Papua has sought confirmation of the arrests from Ternate district police chief Assistant Superintendent Ashari Juanda via an SMS message and two phone calls but as of posting this report there has been no response.
Although it is widely held that West Papua declared independence from Indonesia on December 1, 1961, this actually marks the date when the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag was first raised alongside the Dutch flag in an officially sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia. The first declaration of independence actually took place on July 1, 1971 at the Victoria Headquarters in Waris Village, Jayapura.
Operation Trikora was declared by Indonesian founding President Sukarno in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 19, 1961. It was an Indonesian military operation aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 rather than one intended to suppress a nascent independence movement.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Peringati Hari Lahirnya Embrio Negara Papua Barat, Polisi Tangkap 99 Orang di Ternate”.]