Freedom of assembly under threat - Security forces prevent commemoration of international human rights day in Dogiyai Regency

The ICP received credible information from the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk (JPIC) of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (KINGMI Papua) according to which joint security forces have prevented the peaceful commemoration of the international human rights day on the 10 December 2017 in the city Moanemani of Dogiyai Regency. Human rights defenders reported that fully armed members of the infantry (AD), air force (AU), mobile police brigade unit (BRIMOB) and crowd control police unit (DALMAS) blocked the road and prevented protesters from voicing their aspirations to the local parliament of Dogiyai regency.

FB IMG 1513329296854When organisers of the demonstration tried to negotiate with the security forces to proceed to the parliament building, members of the military threatened to apply physical violence and open fire at the protesters. The police argued that the demonstration was illegal because the organisers did not have a “police acknowledgement letter” (STTP), confirming that authorities had not been informed  about the public comemmoration. In deed, police officers had refused to issue the letter as part of a common strategy in West Papua to prevent demonstrations that could lead to media coverage, exposing the human rights situation in West Papua or criticisms towards the central government. The protesters stopped the demonstration to avoid a forceful dispersal.

Background
Indonesian law guarantees the freedom of assembly for demonstrations. It requires demonstrators to inform the police beforehand but does not require a permit from the police. However, in West Papua, the police usually uses the lack of a “police acknowledgement letter” (STTP)1 in response to a “notification letter for a demonstration” as reason to declare demonstrations illegal. Human rights activists reported a large number of cases, in which the police did not issue a “police acknowledgement letter” (STTP) in order to prevent Papuan civil society groups from the enjoyment of their freedom of expression. If demonstrations take place without the ”acknowledgement letter”, security forces frequently disperse protests with the reason that the organizing entity did not receive the STTP.