ALRC statement on arbitrary arrest and detention in West Papua

August 30, 2018

A Written Submission to the 39th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre

INDONESIA: Arbitrary arrest and detention in Papua must be ended; the Rule of Law must be amplified

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to inform the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) about repetition of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in Papua (currently Papua Province and West Papua Province). The ALRC has learned that the law enforcement agencies in Papua and West Papua Province have not yet fully respected the Rule of Law and Due Process.


Press release by Papuan civil society coalition: Concession policies threaten environment and indigenous peoples in West Papua

On 23 August 2018, the ‘Civil Society Coalition for Justice, Human Rights and the Environment in the Land of Papua’ published a press release, criticizing the approvement of concessions in the Provinces Papua and Papua Barat under the Jokowi Government. According to the coalition,  government agencies have approved concessions for eleven palm oil companies with a total area of 237.752 hectares of forest between 2015 and 2018. Some of the companies are allegedly involved in environmental crimes with the participation of police and military members. The coalition claims that the expansion of palm oil plantations in West Papua will push deforestation and increase the number of land conflicts between investors and the indigneous land owners.


Police officers open fire at Papuan students in Waena, Jayapura – two students injured

The International Coalition for Papua has received credible information in relation to the alleged torture and ill-treatment of two Papuan students on 27 August 2018 in the residential area of Perumnas 3 Waena, Jayapura. Yetron Kogoya sustained a bullet wound on the right shoulder (see intro image) as police officers opened fire at a group of Papuan students. He was brought to the Bhayangkara police hospital for medical treatment. Asmel Yigibalom was tortured by police officers during detention at the Perumnas 3 Police post, resulting in a bleeding head injury which needed to be stitched at the Abepura General Hospital. According to the information received, police officers from the Jayapura district police arrested at least 14 students from Lanny Jaya regency and temporarily detained them at the district police station in Jayapura.


Nationalist mass organisations attack Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya to force raising of Indonesian flag

The Papuan Student Alliance AMP has reported a further attack on the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya, East Java Province. On 15 August 2018 at 11.30 am, approximately 30 members from multiple nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS) came to the Papuan student dormitory in Tampaksari District of Surabaya. At 12.30, a group of students asked a representative of the mass organisations to enter the dormitory and discuss the purpose of the visit. According to the head of the ORMAS groups, Basuki Rahmad, the group intended to raise the Indonesian flag in the dormitory front yard in preparation for the commemoration of the Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August. Subsequently, at least ten ORMAS members forced their way into the dormitory yard while the students were still talking with Mr. Rahmad.


Series of arrests in Papuan central highlands – Police takes Polish citizen into custody

Human rights defenders in the Jayawijaya Regency have reported a series of arrests between 25 and 26 August 2018. According to the received informantion, members of the Jayawijaya District Police arrested eight people, one of them a Polish citizen named Jakub Fabian Skrzypski (39). Mr Skrzypski and three Papuan men were arrested on 25 August 2018 around 12.20 pm at the Napua Military Post in Wamena. Subsequently, they were interrogated at the Jayawijaya District Police Station and later released at 02.00 pm.

On 26 August 2018 at 09.10 am, police officers again arrested Naftali Wasahe and Edward Wandik together with two Papuan senior high school students at the Potikelek Market in Wamena. Jakub Fabian Skrzypski was arrested in his Hotel in Wamena. On the same day, members of the Jayawijaya District Police conducted two further arrests in the nearby city of Elelim, in the Yalimo Regency. Alex Wasahe and Yohanis Wandik were arrested at 08.20 pm and brought to the Jayawijaya district police station in Wamena for further interrogation. According to local informants, the police had allegedly found amunition in possesion of some of the arrestees.


Five military members injured during accompaniment of electricity survey

A team of the national electricity company PLN (Perusahan Listrik Negara) consisting of eleven students, three technical engineers, three volunteers and 16 military members was attacked by members of the Papuan Liberation Army (TPN OPM) on 6 August 2018, as they wanted to survey the area around Kinou Village, in Wagemuka District of Paniai Regency, Papua Province. Around 10 am, a group of villagers and TPN members asked the team to cancel the survey activities, arguing that they had not coordinated the survey with the head of district and the village leaders. A subsequent discussion between military members, the resistance members and the villagers escalated into a brawl.


Police officers arbitrarily arrest UNCEN and STIKOM student representatives in Jayapura

Student activists have reported that Police officers arrested the chairman of the Cenderawasih University Executive Student Body (BEM UNCEN), Ferry Kombo. The arrest took place on 16 August 2018 at 04.00 pm in front of Dian Harapan hospital in Waena, Jayapura. Ferry Kombo was taken into custody at the Jayapura district police station and released on the following day. It is unknown whether the police will press charges against him. The arrest occurred after Ferry Kombo  had organized an orientation activity for first semester students (OSPEK) on 14 August 2018. Senior students distributed bracelets with the morning star symbol and asked the new students to wear them. The morning star is a symbol of cultural identity in West Papua, but is also the emblem of the Papuan independence movement. During the orientation, the students sang Papuan songs and collectively shouted “Papua Merdeka” (‘Free Papua’) inside and outside the university premises.


Indigenous community in North Biak protests against aerospace project

The Indonesian aeronautics and space agency (LAPAN) has been planning the establishment of a space port in Northern Biak since 1980. During the ‘New Order’ era under the dictatorship of military General Suharto, the military forced the indigenous community in Saukobye to release their customary land to LAPAN. The ‘Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk of the Evangelical Church in Papua’ (JPIC-GKI) reported that the community now demanded the return of their ancestral land. A former military member tried to attack a GKI pastors and customary land rights holder who criticized LAPAN for lack of transparency and disrespecting FPIC principles during past negotiations over their ancestral land.



Ongoing restrictions on freedom of opinion in West Papua - political activists subjected to arbitrary arrest and unfair trial

Law enforcement institutions in West Papua continue to strictly limit the freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces, in an attempt to counteract aspirations for political independence. The independent news outlet ‘Suara Papua’ published an article according to which members of the Merauke District Police arbitrarily arrested 14 activists of the Papuan student movement GemapaR (Gerakan Mahasiswa Pemuda dan Rakyat) in the early morning hours of 9 August 2018 in the city of Merauke.

Yason Ngelia, the secretary of GempaR stated that the arrests took place in two different locations where the students intended to commemorate the ‘International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples’. Three male activists named Andi Kahol, Beatus and Ruben as well as one female activist named Ronelly were arrested at Libra at 9.17 am. The arrest of ten other activists was reported at Mangga Dua. The local head of police confirmed that four activists were arrested because they conducted a public oration without having a ‘permit’.



Police officers beat up two drivers in Sentani

Three members of the Jayapura District police have beaten up Raimond Penggu (33) and Viki Yikwanak (33) in Sentani near the old market, known as the ‘Pasar Lama’. On 30 July 2018 in the early morning hours, Raimond Penggu and Viki Yikwanak (image on the left) had driven to ‘Pasar Lama’ to meet some of their friends and eat together at a nearby restaurant. On the way back to the car, three police officers approached Raimond and Viki and began to punch and beat them with their rifle butts. According to the online media outlet ‘Suara Papua’, the police members had allegedly suspected the two drivers as the perpetrators in a theft case.


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