(Jayapura) Renewed demonstrations are being held in Jayapura today demanding Indonesia take formal and legal responsibility for ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua, most recently the brutal attack on the Third Papuan People’s Congress (KP3) on October 19.
In the first act of political expression since the violent crackdown by Indonesian security forces on the declaration of the Democratic Republic of West Papua (RDPB) by KP3 participants, local organisers of today’s rally have expressed concern that security forces will again resort to extreme violence to suppress peaceful dissent.
The demonstration, which started at 0900 local time in Waena, near Jayapura, is also demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in West Papua, including those arrested and charged with treason for organising the historic KP3 Congress from October 16-19.
According to witness reports received at the beginning of the march, over 500 police are present with 300 armed riot police and water cannon shadowing the peaceful march. 2 Corps of Brimob (2628-XVII and 2627-XVII0) and 2 SSK (Special Security Company – 150 men each ) of normal police from Polresta Jayapura are attendance, with almost a company of plain clothes police are in attendance, with armoured equipment. Over four companies of Indonesian army in full battle gear are also present.
Speaking by phone to West Papua Media from Jayapura on Sunday night, a Prime Ministerial spokesman for the recently declared RDPB transitional government said that “the increased militarisation of Papua is not the solution that we wish for”. The spokesman further mentioned that Indonesia must allow a platform for us to peacefully express out views in accordance with internationally accepted human rights”.
Rolling civil resistance activities have also been planned across West Papuan towns in coming days, partly to socialise the outcome of the KP3 meetings, and also to up the ante on the Indonesian state to accept the need for political change in Papua, including allowing West Papuan people to exercise their universal human right of self-determination, according to organisers. Despite brutal tactics, intimidation and nightly terror sweep operations by police and military across Jayapura creating significant tension and fear amongst the local population, people are prepared to stand for their rights and prepared to be arrested.
Over 800 people were arrested by Indonesian security forces after simultaneous premeditated raids on various venues in Jayapura on October 19 after the declaration of an independent West Papua. Most of the 800 were released, with scores sustaining serious injuries from beatings and torture by security forces. Seven of the leaders of KP3remain in detention having been charged with makar (Rebellion) and Treason, accused by Jakarta of holding a coup d’etat. Evidence is beginning to emerge that the crackdown was known about in Jakarta before the declaration was made, though it is unclear at this stage who ultimately authorised the use of extreme force against unarmed Papuan delegates.
Seven victims have been formally named, but local human rights activists claim that 17 people were killed by Indonesian police and soldiers, including members of the elite Australian-trained and funded Detachment 88 counterterrorism unit. Over a thousand people are still in hiding, including many with significant untreated injuries meted out by security forces during the simultaneous attacks on Congress .
Organisers of today’s rallies are expecting several thousand people to attend the event in Jayapuras, starting in Sentani (about 25 km outside Jayapura) and then via a long march to Waena, to finish outside the DPRP, the Papuan Provincial Parliament. According to organisers, Jayapura area Police have granted permission for the march and demonstration to go ahead but it is unclear at this stage if a crackdown will occur.
The Indonesian Police Commander for Papua province, Iman Setiawan, held a press conference after the crackdown at KP3 saying that he will “do his duty to defend the integrity of Indonesia” and “destroy” anyone who would speak of a Free West Papua. He told the Jakarta Globe on October 21 “Whoever supports separatism or subversion activity, I will do the same as yesterday [forcefully dissolve the 3rd Papua People’s Congress]. I’ll finish [them],” “So, if there is anyone supporting such movements, I’m ready to die and finish them,” he said. “This is my duty.”