Jakarta – On Tuesday November 17 the Merauke district police arrested more than 50 people from the Papuan People's Council (MRP) in relation to a public hearing on Special Autonomy in Papua. They have all been indicted on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion).
"Yesterday we secured 50 or so people, all of them have been declared suspects", said Merauke district police chief Assistant Superintendant Untung Suriatna when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Thursday November 19.
Suriatna explained that they disbanded the event because the MRP public hearing violated regulations and failed to apply health protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Suriatna said that the meeting should have been to discuss an evaluation of Law Number 21/2001 on Special Autonomy (Otsus) in Papua.
However when police moved in several MRP members were found trying to discard documents from the meeting which turned out to contain the full organisational structure [of an administration arising out of] a planned referendum.
"They wanted to shout slogans supporting their referendum. After we investigated, the evidence was the existence of their current president, there were also ministers", he said.
Suriatna believes that these actions can be categorised as makar and disturbing state security and because of this they will be indicted under Article 104 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).
He believes that the gathering was dangerous because it was planning to disrupt the existing administrative structure in Indonesia.
"Record what I'm saying, this was makar because we have a president, there are regents, there are governors, there are Kapolda [district police chiefs], and there are Pangdam [regional military commanders]. Why were they creating a president and all that, that's makar", he said.
In addition to this, the suspects also violated the regulations on Covid-19 health protocols. Suriatna added that there were at least two people who were confirmed Covid-19 positive after they were examined.
The two Covid-19 positive suspects have been handed over to the Covid-19 Task Force to undergo further treatment.
"There were two positive cases. It's true, don't gather together without a rapid test, they must all have rapid tests so that health is prioritised there", he said.
Earlier, Papua regional police chief (Kapolda) Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw issued a declaration related to the MRP's plans to hold public hearings on Special Autonomy.
Kapolda Declaration Number Mak/1/Xl/2020 contains at least three instruction related to regulations on holding mass activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In one of the points contained in the declaration, Waterpauw asserted that such gatherings are not allowed to plan actions which disturb state security. (mjo/arh)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Lebih dari 50 Orang Jadi Tersangka Makar Terkait Rapat MRP".]