Eight seminarians arrested in West Papua

Police in West Papua arrested eight seminarians, six Franciscans and two Augustinians, who were participating in a peaceful rally in front of Abepura‘s Good Shepherd Catholic Church on 8 October.

They were released after being held and interrogated for 90 minutes.

The demonstrators were calling on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to investigate the unresolved December 2014 killings of four student protesters.

Armed police broke up the demonstration and detained several people, including the seminarians.

“They, carrying weapons, got off their truck and seized all [belongings] such as posters that we brought,” Yulianus Freddy Pawika, a Franciscan seminarian, told ucanews.com.

For the people at the protest the police actions indicate a larger problem.

“It shows that those fighting for human rights have become targets of violence committed by the police,” said Peneas Lokbere, coordinator of the advocacy group Solidarity for the Victims of Human Rights Violations in Papua, which organized the Oct. 8 protest.

Father Neles Tebay, a priest who coordinates the Papuan Peace Network advocacy group, also questioned the police actions.

“Every peaceful protest is faced with a military approach,” he said. “How can it be?”

In September, Bishop John Philip Saklil of Timika decried military and police aggression in Papua.

He highlighted five specific acts of violence, including an Aug. 28 case in which two soldiers were accused of firing on a graduation party in a church, killing two people.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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