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New Papuan protests demand Indonesia take responsibility for human rights abuses

Morning Star face

A Papuan protester daubed in the colours of the Morning Star flag. Photo: PMC archive

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By West Papua Media correspondents

Fresh demonstrations were 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) earlier this month.

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 expressed concern that security forces would again resort to extreme violence to suppress peaceful dissent.

The demonstration, which started this morning 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, more than 500 police were 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 were in attendance today, with almost a company of plain clothes police present with armoured equipment. More than four four companies of the Indonesian army in full battle gear were also present.

Speaking by phone to West Papua Media from Jayapura last night, a Prime Ministerial spokesman for the recently declared RDPB transitional government said “the increased militarisation of Papua is not the solution that we wish for”.

The spokesman added that Indonesia must allow a platform “for us to peacefully express out views in accordance with internationally accepted human rights”.

Rolling resistance
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, the organisers say.

More than 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 KP3 remain 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 counter-terrorism unit.

1000 in hiding
More than 1000 people are still in hiding, including many with significant untreated injuries meted out by security forces during the simultaneous attacks on the congress .

Organisers of today’s rallies are expecting several thousand people to attend the event in Jayapura, 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 would “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].”

He added: “So, if there is anyone supporting such movements, I’m ready to die and finish them. This is my duty.”

It is unclear whether Jakarta is going to call for restraint of its security forces again, or if they once again will kill people for engaging in peaceful free expression.

Source: West Papua Media – check for further updates

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    […] Monday, fresh demonstrations were held in Jayapura demanding Indonesia take formal and legal responsibility for ongoing human rights abuses in West […]