Indonesian security forces detain scores ahead of demonstration

Indonesian police and army units have conducted heavily armed security sweeps across Jayapura ahead of planned mass demonstrations by civil society organizations, including the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua.

The raids began at 3am local time on April 30, after the new Papuan Governor Lukas Enembe endorsed a decision by Chief of the (Indonesian) Papua Police, the Australian-trained former head of the notorious counter-terror unit Detachment 88, Inspector General Tito Karnavian, to criminalise all public gatherings for May 1. Karnavian made a statement saying that he will not tolerate dissent to be publicly expressed on May 1.

Police announced to Jayapura residents and rally organisers, that if demonstrations occured, they would first attempt to use persuasion to disperse the approach of rally participants, and if rally participants ignored persuasion, then they would use force and “destroy” any gatherings.

On May 1 both the Papuan Regional Police (Polda) and Indonesian Military (TNI) Command XVII/Cenderawasih were reportedly at full strength to “secure” actions that commemorate the annexation

Some of the rallies, in Jayapura and Sorong, were forcibly broken up by police.

Arnold Belau, a journalist from reported that dozens of police (Polri) and military (TNI) trucks were driving through the streets of Jayapura. A number of trucks were parked in places that have been sites of regular protest action by Papuans in the past.

The police arrested six people in Ibdi village in Biak regency for commemorating the day as Papua’s annexation by Indonesia and raising the Morning Star flag.

“The six people were arrested because they were flying the banned flag,” Papua Police chief spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya said in Jayapura.

In Sorong one soldier was injured when security officers tried to break up a crowd commemorating the annexation. The Jakarta Post reported that he crowd refused to disperse and instead attacked security personnel using sharp weapons.

On May 1, 1963, United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) transferred administration of the Dutch colony of Netherlands New Guinea to Indonesia.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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