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Jakarta Post

Jayapura Police question students for holding forum protesting Papuan activists trial

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 18, 2020   /   06:00 am
Jayapura Police question students for holding forum protesting Papuan activists trial Students and activists under the Committee for the Release of Papuan Political Prisoners protest in front of the Supreme Court building in Central Jakarta on Monday. They demanded the authorities release the seven Papuan activists standing trial in Balikpapan district court in East Kalimantan on treason charges. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

Four student activists from the Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ) in Papua were detained by the police for questioning on Monday while holding an open forum in the run-up to the verdicts in the trials of seven Papuans accused of treason.

Emanuel Gobay, a lawyer from the Papua Coalition of Law and Human Rights Defenders, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that advocates from the group immediately went to the Jayapura Police headquarters after they heard about the reported arrests on Monday morning.

The four students, namely Marten Pakage, Semi Gobay, Albert Yatipai and Ones Yalak, were apprehended within the USTJ campus while they were holding an open forum as a protest at the judicial proceedings of the “Balikpapan Seven”, a group of Papuan students and activists who have been on trial on treason charges for their involvement in a string of anti-racism protests in Jayapura last year.

The students, Emanuel said, were questioned for about two hours before they were asked to sign a statement letter.

“After the interrogation, we were still clueless about the reason why the students were dragged to the police [headquarters],” Emanuel said, adding that the police only said the students would be released after they signed the letter.

Read also: Papuan protesters sentenced to less than one year for treason amid calls to drop charges

Emanuel, citing the police's statement, said that the students were not questioned as witnesses or suspects, but for clarification based on a report made by the USTJ administration.

“According to the four students, they were questioned about their [open forum] activity on the campus […] They also said the police had arrested them without a warrant and without informing them about their alleged wrongdoing. The students also informed [the coalition] about physical violence during the arrest,” he said in a text message to the Post.

The Jayapura Police released the students on Monday evening and claimed that they only sought clarification from the students based on the latter's activity on the campus, saying it was not an arrest.

The police confirmed that the students were released with conditions, however, they denied allegations of using violence against the students.

Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Gustav R. Urbinas said on Tuesday that he guaranteed that the four students – up to the time of release -- were in a healthy condition and had not experienced any mistreatment.

Read also: Churches union conveys 'deep concerns' over handling of 7 Papuan protesters

“So, we hope there will not be rumors about such acts of violence [by the police],” he said as quoted by Antara.

“We took them to the police station as per a report from their campus. The campus said their activity was not in line with academic guidelines […] They were released on Monday evening,” Gustav said.

The Jayapura Police also confiscated the material used by the students as evidence. Gustav, however, stopped short of explicitly mentioning the USTJ in his statement.