Security forces unlawfully arrest 45 university students in Jayapura

On 4 April 2018, members of the local Police, Intelligence (BIN), police special unit ‘BRIMOB’ and the military district comand ‘Kodim 1701 Jayapura’ searched several houses in the residential area ‘Perumnas III Waena’, located in the Heram District of Jayapura. The houses were inhabited by stundents of the Cenderawasih University in Jayapura. 45 students were arrested. Subsequently, the students were brought to the BRIMOB head quarters in Kota Raja and later detained at the Jayapura district police station. Two students were brought to the sub-district police station in Abepura (Polsek Abepura).

A team of human rights defenders from various local organisations closely monitored the detention of the student at the Jayapura sub-district police to ensure that the police officers would not torture the detainees during interrogation. The director of the Papuan Association of Human Rights Lawyers for Papua (PAHAM Papua) stated in a public interview with ‘Guardian Australia’ that security force members used unnecessary physical force against some students. The police officers arrested the students without proper warrant and not in accordance with Indonesian law enforcement procedures.

At least eight of the arrested students were members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), an indigenous polical movement organisation, which is struggeling for the right to self-determination of the Papuan people. Among the arrestees was the KNPB secretary, Ones Suhuniap. The head of the Jayapura district police, Gustav Urbinas, explained that the arrests were carried out after members of the intelligence had found a leaflet which contained information about a declaration for the preparation of a West Papuan Republic. However, the head of KNPB, Viktor Yeimo, denied any involvement of his organisation in the declaration.

43 students who were detained at the Jayapura district police station were released the following day, while the two students remain in custody sub-district police station in Abepura (Polsek Abepura). They are likely to face criminal charges in relation to the alleged theft of several motor cycles. The police seized 35 motor cycles as well as laptops, a morning star flag and other political emblems during the house search.