Jakarta – The West Papua regional police (Polda) arrested 36 people in Manokwari and Sorong city following demonstrations commemorating the anniversary of the West Papua New Guinea National Congress (WPNGNC) on Friday November 27.
West Papua regional police spokesperson Assistant Superintendent Adam Erwindi said that the people arrested are currently being questioned by police.
"The Manokwari Polres [district police] backed up by West Papua Polda Brimob [Mobile Brigade paramilitary police] have secured them and are taking information", said Erwindi when sought for confirmation by CNN Indonesia on Friday.
Erwindi explained that the protesters did not provide prior notification of the rally with police. It is because of this therefore that police claim they had the authority to break up the protest.
In addition to this, he said, the protest action was disrupting public order and blocking roads so that road users were unable to pass. "The substance of the demo violated Article 6 of Law Number 9/1998 [on demonstrations]", he continued.
This article stipulates that in conveying an opinion people must respect the rights and freedoms of others, respect morality and safeguard security and public order.
Erwindi asked that those who want to hold protest actions pay attention to the security situation and public order. He also warned that all protest actions must be in accordance with regulations.
"If they're not in accordance with the above then police in accordance with mandated laws are obliged to break them up", he said.
At least two Brimob members were injured after being hit by stones when the rally was being broken up.
According to the Antara state news agency, the demonstrators refused to disperse and pelted police with stones and bottles until they were pushed back by teargas.
The demonstrators who were forced back became even more brutal and continued pelting police with rocks and bottles. They also ignited firecrackers and threw them at police.
The demonstrators shouted "Free Papua" as they threw stones in the direction of police. (mjo/psp)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "36 Orang Ditangkap Usai Demo Papua Merdeka".]