Report – By a West Papua Media correspondent in Jayapura
Indonesian security forces arrested at least three people in West Papua today as demonstrations were held to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the original declaration of West Papua’s independence.
Victor Yeimo, chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), has been confirmed as being arrested by police, according to independent witnesses and his brother, West Papua Media reported.
It was unknown if Yeimo was arrested by the Australian-funded and trained Detachment 88 counter-terrorism unit, which had been committed to hunt Yeimo.
At least two other people were arrested jointly by Indonesian military (TNI) and police outside the headquarters of TNI battalion 752 at Expo Waena.
The two confirmed detainees are Usman Yogobi and Alius Asso, according to West Papua Media stringers at the scene.
More names will be provided as soon as confirmed, WPM reported.
December 1 each year is marked by the waving of the banned Morning Star flag of independence.
Major rallies were also held in Melbourne, Australia, and were planned to be held in Sorong, Nabire, Fak Fak, Manokwari, Wamena,, Timika and Serui.
Information from these rallies had not yet been reported.On Thursday in New Zealand, Green MP Catherine Delahunty raised the West Papuan flag in a bold protest in Parliament, calling on Prime Minister John Key’s Government to do more for human rights in Papua.
Metro TV Newsreported later:
The three arrests occurred when demonstrators led by Victor Yeimo began marching from the Waena III State Housing Company (Perumnas) towards the Expo area. Hundreds of police from the Jayapura municipal police were mobilised and police initially requested that they disburse. The KNPB were intending to commemorate December 1, which is usually referred to as Papua Independence Day.
Earlier, they held speeches at the Waena III Perumnas public transport roundabout and were determined to hold a long-march to the Waena Expo complex. After marching for around 500 metres, the demonstrators where blocked by police in front of the Waena diesel power plant, who requested that they disperse. The demonstrators refused and police dispersed them forcibly by firing tear gas into the crowd.
The 50 or so protesters immediately dispersed but not before three people were detained and placed in a paddy wagon. Jayapura municipal police chief Police Commissioner Alfred said that they were arrested because the protest did not have a permit.
“I issued an order to block them in front of the Dian Harapan hospital. While negotiations were taking place they remained determined [to march] and we used force to disburse the demonstrators”, he said.
The protesters were disbursed after two canisters of tear gas were fired when they pelted people in the vicinity [with stones]. “As a result of the [stone] throwing a person was injured in the vicinity of their elbow as a result of the [stone] throwing and is now being treated in hospital”, said Alfred. As a result of the incident a number of shops were closed.
[Slightly abridged translation from Bahasa by James Balowski.]
Source: West Papua Media