Police arrest 15 at December 1 rally in South Sulawesi, break up protest in Ternate

Tirto.id – December 1, 2020
West Papuans protest against extension of Special Autonomy law – December 1, 2020 (Tirto)

Adi Briantika – Police have arrested 15 demonstrators from the Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) during a protest action at the Bamboo Monument in Sinjai, South Sulawesi.

One of the members of the Papua solidarity movement, Faris, confirmed the information. "Yes, 15 people (were arrested)", he told Tirto on Tuesday December 1. It is still not known who exactly was taken into custody and is being questioned by the Sinjai district police.

The protest action was opposing the extension of Special Autonomy and demanding the right to self-determination for West Papua.

At around 8.04 am the situation in the vicinity of the Bamboo Monument was peaceful. Twenty-two minutes later, the demonstrators started to arrive.

As the protesters were sitting in a circle around the monument waiting for their other colleagues to arrive, four police intelligence officers (intel) appeared, one of which started taking their pictures. Several more intelligence officers also appeared.

At 8.37 am a demonstrator carrying the main banner for the protest arrived. Speeches and shouts of Papua independence began to boom out of a megaphone.

"About five minutes later, several intel approached the protesters, then they took away the banner and other materials. Then the demonstrators were arrested and taken away by the Sinjai district police", said Faris.

Protest in Ternate

Actions commemorating West Papua independence day also took place in front of the Barito Market in Gamalama, Central Ternate. Police however forcibly dispersed the rally which was opposing the extension of Special Autonomy, calling for the recently enacted Jobs Law to be revoked and demanding democracy for the Papuan people.

Ternate district police chief Assistant Superintendent Aditya Laksimada cited three reasons for breaking up the rally.

First, the protesters did not have a receipt of a written notification of the demonstration with police, although they had already confirmed the rally with police beforehand.

Second, the protest attracted a crowd which was prone to the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Third, police wanted to prevent incitement and speeches directed at dividing the nation. (tirto.id – Hukum)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aksi 1 Desember Papua: 15 Demonstran di Sulsel Ditangkap Polisi".]

Source: https://tirto.id/aksi-1-desember-papua-15-demonstran-di-sulsel-ditangkap-polisi-f7BD