Jakarta – West Papua National Committee (KNPB) spokesperson Ones Suhuniap says that security forces arrested 132 people during the commemoration of International Human Rights Day in West Papua on Tuesday December 10. Ninety people were arrested in Timika and another 42 in Merauke.
The KNPB commemorated Human Rights Day under the themes “Papua is a Human Rights Emergency Zone”, “Democracy in the Land of Papua” and “The Solution is to Give the Right of Self-Determination to the Papuan People Through a Referendum”.
The KNPB claims it coordinated activities commemorating Human Rights Day in all parts of Papua from Sorong to Merauke. “In Timika 90 people were arrested by police at 8am in the Timika Indah area”, said Suhuniap in a press release.
Suhuniap explained that people began gathering at the KNPB offices in Timika at 7am local time. They then marched on foot to the Timika Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) to continue the protest there.
Half-way through the march, said Suhuniap, security forces blocked their way. It was then that the 90 people were arrested by police.
Suhuniap said that police also confiscated megaphones, pamphlets, banners, mobile phones and other materials used during the demonstration. “Some were assaulted by police when they were arrested”, said Suhuniap.
Police also arrested 42 people in the middle of a commemoration of Human Rights Day in Merauke. Suhuniap said that this included two children. “The arrests took place at 9.29am”, he said.
According to Suhuniap police allowed those arrested in Timika and Merauke to return home late on Tuesday afternoon.
Suhuniap said that commemorations at the different locations such as Jayapura, Manokwari and Fak Fak were closely watched over by security personnel. Suhuniap said he deplored the attitude of the security forces.
“[This year’s] commemoration of International Human Rights Day in Papua shows that democratic space is still being stifled and the weakness of human rights protections in the land of Papua”, said Suhuniap.
Papua regional police chief Inspector General Martuwani Sormin meanwhile said that based on data from the Timika municipal police, the protesters holding the long-march and demonstration did so without notifying police beforehand.
In addition to this, he said, a number of protesters brought small children, banners and wooden clubs. “They were asked to disband but they were not prepared to do so”, said Sormin.
The protesters were then gathered together at the Timika Indah square and given directions. After this they were driven home in Timika municipal police vehicles. (bmw/pmg)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “KNPB: Aparat Tangkap 132 Orang Papua Saat Peringati Hari HAM”.]