Police raid student protestors in regions

Amid growing protests over the government’s apparent inability to resolve unrest in Papua, the National Police have carried out raids against Papuan students across the country.

Oktavianus Pogau, a Papuan activist and law student at Indonesian Christian University (UKI), said police officers and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel had raided houses rented by Papuan students studying in Jakarta.

The Papuan students had allegedly been involved in a series of protests in the capital.

He said that five Papuan students of UKI and Atma Jaya University residing in Tebet, South Jakarta, were forced to move to other residential areas after being “bullied” by three police officers and one TNI member who had forced their way into their residence on Thursday.

“With fully loaded rifles and pistols, they asked for personal identification and the students’ purposes for studying in Jakarta,” Oktavianus said on Monday.

Several unidentified persons, who Oktavianus suspected were “police officers dressed in civilian clothes”, had also been present around the hostel for several days before the raid finally took place.

Similar raids and acts of intimidation had also occurred in areas where Papuans had been living in Pasar Minggu and Lenteng Agung, Jakarta, as well as in Semarang, Yogyakarta and Bali, Oktavianus said.

Papuan Community Alliance Against Corruption (KAMPAK) activist Dorus Wakum said that the recent acts of intimidation allegedly perpetrated by the police and military might be a reaction to the students’ “vocal” approach in responding to recent human rights issues involving their homeland.

Papuan students in several regions have held rallies following a series of fatal incidents in the region over the past two months.

Despite a lack of clarity regarding who might have been responsible, the police have accused Free Papua Organization (OPM) members and dispatched additional Mobile Brigade officers to the region.

Papuan students in Makassar and Jakarta staged rallies on Monday demanding President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stop discrimination and violence in the region.

“The government’s repressive measures have resulted in the suffering of Papuans,” said Yuza, a protester at the Makassar rally.

Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) coordinator Haris Azhar said that the raids were a form of systemic intimidation and terrorism against Papuans living outside Papua.

“The Army and police have violated Article 9 of the 1999 Law on Human Rights,” Haris said.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution told reporters on Monday that police had received reports that Papuan students residing in Tebet and Lenteng Agung were heavy drinkers who
often disturbed their neighbors.

Oktavianus lambasted Saud’s statement, calling the accusations “blatant lies disgracing the Papuan people”.

“These are clearly lies. There was never any drinking and we never did anything that disturbed the neighborhood. If there were such disturbances, the local residents could speak to us personally or send an official letter reprimanding such acts,” Oktavianus said.

“We are deeply embarrassed by these accusations. We Papuans always feel like we are treated as criminals and outlaws.” (sat)

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