Report – By the Pacific Media Centre newsdesk
Attempts to hold a prayer service at a gravesite in West Papua have been thwarted by Indonesian Brimob police, reports West Papua Media Alerts from Abepura.
The service was to mark the anniversary of the Third Papuan People’s Congress, at which live fire was used on a large crowd of Papuans who had gathered to vote for their independence, in October last year
Reports say that up to 1000 people gathered yesterday at the grave of Theys Eluay, an independence leader who was murdered, allegedly by Kopassus officers, in 2001.
West Papua Media Alerts reports that Jayapura police had issued a permit for the memorial service earlier in the month but had reneged on it and orchestrated a “brutal crackdown” yesterday.
West Papua Media said:
“Just before 10 am local time, several hundred heavily armed members of the Indonesian security forces had gathered outside Expo Waena shopping centre adjacent to the gravesite, causing many people to stand back from the already gathered mass. 6 trucks full of Brimob, 4 trucks of Army (TNI), 1 Gegana anti terror police unit and 3 trucks of Dalmas public order riot police (including members of Detachment 88) had deployed in a ‘show force’ manoeuvre.
According to witnesses in the crowd, almost 100 plain clothes armed intelligence officers had also deployed throughout the mass of ordinary Papuans around the shopping complex threatening to kill anyone that spoke against Indonesia.”
This came not long after the new chairman of the KNPB (the National Committee of West Papua) had sent an open letter warning of violent arrests of committee members.
Victor Yeimo, who featured on the ABC 7:30 Report stories in August and earlier this month, published the letter, saying five members were “ambushed while sleeping and treated like terrorists”.
The crackdown comes after reports of security forces intensifying their raids in Wamena, with allegations of bomb plots by pro-independence activists. However, church leaders have accused the counter-terrorist groups such as Detachment 88 of engineering the conditions and planting bomb equipment on the property of KNPB committee members.
Yeimo was elected following the murder of peaceful independence activist Mako Tabuni in June, allegedly at the hands of Detachment 88 – the counter-terrorist squad trained and funded by Australian Federal Police.
Here is Yeimo’s letter in full:
Dear people in the world,
I’m writing this letter under the threat of ambush and arbitrary arrests by Indonesian Police and Detachment 88.
This down morning (19/10) at 5.00 A.M (local time), 5 members of KNPB, including KNPB chairman of Timikia Region, Steven Itlay and the vice chairman of West Papua National Parliament in Timika, Romario Yatipai already beeng arrested by Dethacement 88 and Police without any clear reason. They were ambushed while sleeping and treated like terrorists.
This crackdown is happening while KNPB is preparing peaceful demo to express the right of self determination and to support the meeting of International Parliamentarians for West Papua [IPWP] at Parliament House London on next October 23 this week.
Please be announce that my people of West Papua is under the threat of terror due to the maintaining the struggle of independence. We need international pressure on the emergency situation in West Papua. We need international media to monitor all the Indonesian propagandas to eliminate struggle movement with the terrorist issue -as i said that KNPB is now under my leadership never had any plan or program to make acts of terror with bomb as Indonesia is now use that issue to degradate our peaceful struggle.
Chairman of KNPB
West Papua Media Alerts reported that there had been no reports of any injuries or casualties and that live fire had not been used.