Video of Malang police chief threatening to shoot Papuan students goes viral

CNN Indonesia – March 9, 2021
Police break up protest by Papuan student at IWD rally in Malang – March 8, 2021 (Suara Malang)

Jakarta – A video of a police officer warning that they will shot Papuan students gathered in front of the Malang municipal police headquarters in East Java has gone viral on social media. In the video, a local police unit chief can be heard threatening the Papuan students.

"If you cross the fence line, it'll be halal darah [a lawful or legitimate killing under Islam], shot dead. Halal darah, shot dead. If you enter the gates, you will be halal darah", shouts a voice which can be heard on the video circulating on Social Media on Tuesday March 9.

One of the accounts which has shared the video is a Twitter account belonging to Papuan activist Veronica Koman, @VeronicaKoman.

Last night: police chief in Malang (Java) to West Papuan students outside the police station demanding their detained #IWD2021 rally friend to be released: "You are a legitimate target! Shoot! If you enter here, you are a legitimate target!" ("Kamu halal darahnya! Tembak!") –

When sought for confirmation, Malang Papua Student Alliance (AMP) Secretary General Fhen Suhuniap confirmed the validity of the video. He said that the police office who shouted this is suspected to be Malang municipal police chief (Kapolresta) Senior Commissioner Leonardus Simarmata.

"Yes, it's true, they're the words of the Malang Kapolresta", Suhuniap told CNN Indonesia on Tuesday.

Suhuniap said this happened when a number of students from the Women's Movement with the People (Gempur) Alliance wanted to visit a colleague who was being detained at the Malang police headquarters after being arrested at an International Women's Day (IWD) action on Monday evening.

Because they wanted to show their solidarity with the person, they also planned to enter the headquarters. But no sooner had they arrived at the front gate, they were blocked by fully armed police and troops.

"We were there for solidarity, for a comrade who's still being held inside", said Suhuniap.

In the middle of all this, said Suhuniap, Simarmata is alleged to have made the threat against them. The police chief instructed his troops that if any students entered the police headquarters then it would be halal darah to shoot them dead.

"He threatened that if we took one step through the police station's front gate, he would order his officers to shoot, their blood (the Papuan students) is halal", he said.

Police denial

When sought for confirmation, Simamarta was reluctant to make a comment. However East Java regional police public relations head, Senior Commissioner Gatot Repli Handoko, said that the video had been edited and was incomplete.

Handoko said there were words by the Malang police chief which were intentionally edited out by the person who recorded and made the video so the context of Simamarta's statement was lost and incomplete.

"Actually the narrative wasn't like that, it was actually only part of a sentence which was cut by the person who made the video, intentionally", said Handoko.

Based on a confirmation from Simamarta, Handoko said that the remarks made to the Papuan students were because they tried to force their way into the grounds of the municipal police [Polres] headquarters. The police chief then warned them not to do this.

"They (the Papuan students) wanted to force their way into Polres. They were told not to enter Polres, there are laws against this, right, they still [tried to] force [their way in]", he said in conclusion. (frd/ain)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Viral Video Polisi Malang Ancam Mahasiswa Papua".]