Police officers surrounded Papuan students in their dormitory in Yogyakarta to prevent them from attending an event organized by the People’s Union for West Papua Freedom (PRPPB).
Police officers secured the dormitory on Jl. Kusumanegara on Friday from morning to evening and arrested seven of the students.
The PRPPB event was in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua’s (ULMWP) bid to become a full member of the Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG).
PRPPB spokesman Roy Karoba told The Jakarta Post that hundreds of students, who were kept in the dormitory since early Friday, had not eaten and an Indonesian Red Cross ambulance conveying food was prevented from entering the dormitory. “The ambulance was not allowed to enter [the dormitory]. It left after discussions with police officers,” Roy said.
Initially, the students sought to organize a meeting at Titik Nol (Zero Point) in the center of Yogyakarta City, but the police did not permit them to carry out their plans. They then decided to organize free speech events in the dormitory.
The police arrested at least seven students, seized a Morning Star Flag and a motorcycle. Police also fired warning shots during a clash between officers and students. Four of the students were arrested when they bought food at Giwangan market.
Tension at the dormitory increased when opposing activists from the Pancasila Youth (PP), the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans' Children (FKPPI) and a mass organization of Paksi Katon arrived at the location to support the police.
Yogyakarta Police’s intelligence department head Comr. Wahyu Dwi Nugroho confirmed that the police did not permit the event at Zero Point. “It is for the sake of security,” he said, declining to comment further.
Emanuel Gobay of the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institution (LBH Yogyakarta) criticized the police for preventing the students from carrying out their demonstration, saying that it violated human rights principles. (bbn)