Papuans question rally bans when no action taken against Islamic hardliners

CNN Indonesia – November 16, 2020
Protesters argues with police officer after police block march to State Palace – November 16, 2020 (CNN)

Jakarta – Demonstrators from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) have protested the police's actions in blocking them when they wanted to hold a rally at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Monday November 16. They have experienced the same problem during demonstrations in Papua.

One of the speakers at the rally, John Tinmeva, criticised the police's attitude which he believes is unjust.

Police blocked them on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat near the Arjunawiwaha Statue (Horse Statue) when they were about to hold a long-march to the nearby State Palace. It is unclear on what grounds that the police blocked them.

On the other hand, said Tinmeva, police allowed large crowds of supporters of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Habib Rizieq Shihab to gather at several events which were held over the last week since the self-exiled FPI leader returned from Saudi Arabia on Tuesday November 10.

Tinmeva touched on the fact that Shihab's return was greeted by thousands of people who paid no attention to health protocols. Police did not disburse the crowds of supporters.

"Habib Rizieq arrived yesterday as free as you please. People were free to greet him, Jakarta was full of crowds. Meanwhile in Wamena, Paniai, West Papua when they want to convey an opinion [demonstrate], they're specifically banned by the Papua regional police", said Tinmeva during the rally at the Horse Statue on Monday.

The Papuan regional police recently made an announcement banning students from protesting against Special Autonomy or Otsus. The Papuan People's Council (MRP) was also prohibited from holding a public hearing with students saying that the activities were leading towards a planned act of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion).

"[When] the Papuan people wanted to hold a public hearing organised by the MRP, it was closed down. Is this country just and fair? A constitutional state?", he said.

During the demonstration today, the AMP put forward three demands, namely opposing the operation of the former PT Freeport Indonesia Wabu Block, rejecting the extension of Special Autonomy for Papua which will expire in 2021 and opposing the recently enacted Omnibus Law on Job Creation.

The AMP protesters, who shouted "referendum" when they were blocked by police, saw this as a form of repression against democracy.

Police banned the Papuan students from demonstrating at the State Palace even though they have submitted a written notification a week before. Police installed razor wire and closed access to roads leading to the Palace.

"This is evidence of the muzzling of democracy. This is also happening in the land of Papua", said another speaker, Roland Levy, standing in front of the razor wire blockade. (dhf/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Demo Diadang, Mahasiswa Papua Sindir Pembiaran Massa Rizieq".]