Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – The police forcibly broke up a protest action marking the 1962 Rome Agreement in front of the United States Embassy in Central Jakarta on the afternoon of Thursday September 30 and arrested 17 Papuan activists.
One of the demonstrators, former political prisoner Ambrosius Mulait, said that the 17 arrested protesters were forcibly taken away by police as soon as they arrived at the US Embassy.
"We hadn't even started the action at all and were forced to get into crowd control vehicles", said Mulait when sought for confirmation on Thursday.
Mulait also said that police acted repressively when they were arresting the protesters by firing teargas until a physical clash broke out between demonstrators and police. "Some of our comrades were assaulted by the police", he said.
Central Jakarta district police chief Senior Commissioner Hengki Hariyadi confirmed that 17 Papuan activists were arrested.
Hariyadi said that they did not allow the protest action because Jakarta is currently under a Level 3 Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM) in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
"So essentially during a Level 3 PPKM all activities which have the potential to create crowds are prohibited, in this case they did not have a permit to express an opinion in pubic, so it was without a recommendation from the security forces", said Hariyadi.
The protest action by the Papuan activists conveyed six demands:
- [The right to hold] an action in the context of commemorating the 59th anniversary of the Rome Agreement.
- Urging President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to withdraw all TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police) from Papua because they are making the situation for the Papuan people uncomfortable.
- The release political prisoner Victor Yeimo who is currently in ill health and is being detained at the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) command headquarters in Jayapura.
- Rejecting the extension of Special Autonomy for Papua which has failed to bring prosperity to the Papuan people.
- Giving Papuans the right to self-determination (a referendum)
- Rejecting racism and fully resolved human rights violations in Papua.
The Rome Agreement was signed by Indonesia, the Netherlands and the United States in Rome on September 30, 1962. The agreement provided for a postponement of a referendum on West Papua's status which had been scheduled to be held in 1969 under the New York Agreement signed on August 15, 1962, that the referendum would use a consultative process, that the UN's report on the implementation of the referendum would be accepted without open debate and on US commitments to invest in resource exploration and provide funds for development programs in West Papua.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polisi Tangkap 17 Aktivis Papua yang Akan Demo di Depan Kedubes AS".]