Makawaru da Cunha, Jayapura – The All-Papua Student Executive Student Alliance is demanding that the police immediately and unconditionally release two Papuan students and West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson Victor Yeimo.
The two students were arrested during a protest action opposing the G20 Summit in Bali last year that was held in front of PT Gapura Angkasa at the Cenderawasih University (Uncen) in Waena, Jayapura, on November 16 last year.
Seven students were arrested during the action. Five of them have been released while two others – Gerson Pigai and Kamus Bayage – are facing prosecution.
In addition to this, the Alliance is also demanding the unconditional release of pro-democracy activists Victor Yeimo, who was arrested in Jayapura on May 9, 2021 on charges of masterminding the anti-racism protests in Jayapura in 2019.
These demands were conveyed by Uncen Student Executive Council (BEM) human rights minister Kristian Kobak, who was accompanied by the chairperson of the Uncen student activities unit (UKM) Human Rights and Environment Division Jhon Fredi Tebai, the chairperson of the Uncen Student Deliberative Council (MPM) Abniel Doo and Papua Muhammadiyah University BEM Chairperson Aten Kepno during a press conference at the Uncen BEM Secretariat on Monday January 16.
Kobak said that although Pigai, Bayage and Yeimo were arrested at different times, all of the arrests represent an effort by the state to maintain Papua as part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).
"The state is still using the same old methods, arresting students, but also pro-democracy activists in the land of Papua", he said.
Kobak is of the view that the action opposing the G20 in Bali proves that the security forces are provoking the masses. But all this time the security forces have in fact hidden the mafia from the demonstrators and then arrested the students.
Kobak added that law enforcement against the Papuan people is very repressive and does not side with the ordinary people.
"The politics of racism against the Papuan people is deeply entrenched, this is one of the forms of injustice committed by the state against the Papuan people", concluded Kobak.
Abniel Doo said that during the protest action against the G20 Summit there was a clash between students and police at Gapura Angkasa at Uncen.
A BEM representative from the Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ), Holland Silak, said that during the protest against the G29 the students were blamed for the chaos, whereas there were provocateurs behind the action.
Meanwhile Victor Yeimo's case has already been resolved by the state, so he must be released. Yeimo is the victim of racism itself, and not the perpetrator.
Aten Kepno said that Pigai, Bayage and Yeimo are innocent but they have been sacrificed by the things done by the Jakarta government.
Jhon Fredi Tebai said that the G20 action ended in chaos but they know who manipulated this, and then Piagi and Bayage were arrested. Yet the victims were not the police, but the students who were injured and knocked unconscious.
"We saw this as the criminalisation committed by the police against students, because they could not find the perpetrator of the chaos", asserted Tebai.
Yet the student's protest was in accordance with Article 28 of the 1945 Constitution that states that all citizens have the right to association, organisation and to express ideas verbally or in writing, and much of this is also regulated under law.
"The arrest of Gerson Pigai, Kamus Bayage and Victor Yeimo proves that criminalisation and the stigma of racism is still growing in Papua to this day", concluded Tebai.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aliansi Mahasiswa Badan Eksekutif Se-Papua Tuntut Dua Mahasiswa dan Victor Yeimo Dibebaskan".]