Jakarta-based human rights watchdog Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (Elsam) and its local partner in Papua, Elsham Papua, condemned intimidation and violence by police officers against activist Whens Tebay during a rally in Jayapura on Monday.
The two groups said Whens went to monitor the rally, which was held to promote West Papuan independence, before the police forcibly dispersed it. The police arrested 10 protestors and physically attacked several people attending the rally, the activist said.
Elsham Papua said in a press statement that the police had arrested, interrogated and hit Whens during the rally. The police later confiscated his camera and forced him to erase all photos taken during the rally.
“This is deeply regretful,” said Elsham Papua director Ferdinand Marrisan. “The police did not give Whens a chance to speak as he was immediately arrested”.
The group said the police had also arrested Papuans in other parts across the country during the commemoration of Trikora Day, during which they protested what they consider to be the illegitimate annexation of the region into Indonesia.
In the celebration of Trikora Day earlier this week, the Manado Police in North Sulawesi arrested 72 students from Papua and charged them with treason for planning to hold an event calling for the independence of West Papua.
Both Elsham Papua and Elsam called President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to remind law enforcers of his commitment to maintain peace in Papua.
“President Jokowi must tell the National Police chief [Gen. Tito Karnavian] to oblige police officers throughout the country, including in Papua, to respect and uphold human rights when carrying out their job,” the organizations declared. (ebf)