Commemorations of New York Agreement accompanied by arrests, violence and racism - Papuan students subjected to harassment and assaults

On 15 August 2019, the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian Peoples’ Front for West Papua (FRI West Papua) organised peaceful protests in multiple Indonesian cities in commemoration of the 57. Anniversary of the ‘New York Agreement’ . Simultaneously, a large-scale demonstration took place in Jayapura, Papua Province. While the peaceful demonstrations in Salatiga and Yogyakarta proceeded smoothly, security forces and members of nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS) in the Indonesian cities of Malang and Ternate dispersed the peaceful assemblies. The police responded with mass arrests which were allegedly accompanied by violent acts against the protesters.

Following the protests, Papuan students in the Javanese cities of Semarang and Surabaya were subjected to harassment, intimidation and racist acts. The incidents appear to be only indirectly related to the commemorations of the New York agreement in other cities. Yet, they are an indication for growing notions of racial discrimination against Papuans fuelled by security forces and nationalist mass organisations, particularly in multiple Javanese cities where such acts have repeatedly been reported throughout the past five years. In Surabaya, a police SWAT team forced their way into the Papuan student dormitory and arrested 43 students because one of them had allegedly broken a flagpole in front of dormitory building and thrown the Indonesian flag into a nearby drainage ditch.

Many people in West Papua understood the repressive acts against Papuan students in the cities of Malang, Semarang and Surabaya as acts of racial discrimination and responded with demonstrations and riots. A peaceful demonstration of approximately 500 protesters took place in the town of Jayapura. On 19 August 2019, several angry protesters set the local parliament building in the town of Manokwari, Papua Barat Province, on fire and burned tires on the streets.

Malang, East Java Province
On 15 August 2019, around 8.30 am a group of Papuan students gathered at the Rajabali cross junction in Malang. Shortly after, a group of approximately 40 ORMAS members attacked the protesters, throwing stones, kicking and beating them with motor cycle helmets while shouting racist insults such as ‘pigs’ and ‘monkeys’. According to information received, the police only dispersed the crowd after the Papuan students had defended themselves, causing injuries to one ORMAS member.

Aksi mahasiswa papua dikota Malang 4Around 9.30 am, police officers allegedly arrested thirteen protesters who had fled after the violent assault and tried to re-gather with the other Papuan students. At 9.40 am, the remaining Papuan protesters continued the demonstration with orations for approximately 30 minutes until police officers of the crowd control unit (DALMAS) and ORMAS members forcefully dispersed the peaceful assembly. Subsequently, the police carried out arrests which were allegedly accompanied by beatings. The officers forced the protesters to enter a police truck, while ORMAS members were throwing chilli at the Papuan students. All 56 arrested protesters were released at 11.40 am at the Landungsari bus terminal. Nineteen Papuan students sustained injuries as a result of police violence (see image on the left) and the attacks by ORMAS members (see table below).

Table with Papuan students who were subjected to ill-treatment and torture during the peaceful assembly in Malang

No

Name

Age

Additional information

1

Pinel Gwijangge

22

sustained laceration on the right side of the head

2

Awi Pahabol

22

sustained laceration on the right side of the head

3

Lambentus Woge

24

sustained deep cut behind the ear

4

Warinus Wilil

23

sustained laceration at the back of the head

5

Harminus Loho

20

sustained laceration on top of the head, bleeding nose and cut on the lower lip

6

Pilatus Yusuf

19

sustained cut on the left eyebrow

7

Alsena Gwijangge

18

sustained cut on the right ear

8

Timinus Gwijangge

21

sustained bruises near the eyebrow and deep cut behind the ear

9

Nikson Penggu

22

sustained laceration at the back of the head

10

Yulianus Hilapok

19

sustained laceration on the left temple

11

Daniel Kadepa

23

sustained cut on the inside of the upper lip

12

Jeksen

22

sustained bleeding wound on the thumb and bruises on the right side of the neck

13

Melki Elopere

17

sustained bleeding nose

14

Melky Huby

23

sustained laceration at the back of the head

15

Anandi Gwijangge

20

sustained laceration on the right temple

16

Barto Gwijangge

21

sustained laceration on the right temple

17

Opran Gombo

18

sustained bruises on the left shoulder and neck

18

Feri Takimai

21

sustained bruises on the left shin

19

Alex Wonda

20

sustained bruises below the right knee

20

Erince Penggu

21

came in contact with chilli

21

Dani Nawipa

24

eyes came in contact with chilli

22

Jekson Degei

23

left ear came in contact with chilli

23

Ferry Takimai

21

the neck and body came in contact with chilli on

Ternate, North Maluku Province
On 15 August 2019, followers of the AMP and FRI West Papua members gathered in front of the Barito Market in Ternate to conduct a peaceful protest in commemoration of the ‘New York Agreement’. After five minutes, police officers forcefully arrested seventeen protesters. The officers forced the protesters to walk in squatting position (see image below) and repeatedly punched several of them during arrest. A protester named Asmanya Kambu sustained such severe injuries during arrest that he was admitted to the general hospital in Ternate. The other sixteen protesters were brought to the Ternate district police headquarters, where they were questioned and later released at 7.30 pm.

 Ternate - FRI WP dan KMP 10

Jayapura, Papua Province
On 15 August 2019, protesters gathered in multiple spots in the Jayapura regency and Jayapura municipality to peacefully commemorate the New York Agreement. The police dispersed the crowd and arrested 106 protesters in multiple locations (see table below).

Table with total number of arrests during peaceful commemorations of the New York agreement in Jayapura

No

Place of arrest

Number of arrests

1

Sentani

55

2

Abepura

9

3

Expo (Waena)

18

4

Jayapura city

24

T O T A L

106

Salatiga & Yogyakarta, Central Java Province
On 15 August 2019, the AMP and FRI West Papua also organised peaceful demonstrations in commemoration of the ‘New York Agreement’ in the cities of Yogyakarta and Salatiga. The protesters in Salatiga additionally demanded the immediate withdrawal of all troops from the regency of Nduga, where armed clashes between security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) has led to the displacement of thousands of indigenous peoples since early December 2018. Both demonstrations proceeded smoothly without being interfered by the police or ORMAS members.

Surabaya, East Java Province
On 15 August 2019, at 9.00 am, members of the public order police unit (Satpol PP) and the military came the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya and raised the Indonesian flag in front of the dormitory in preparation for the commemoration of the Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August 1945.

On 16 August 2019, the police and military members again came to the dormitory to raise additional flags in front of the dormitory premises. Around 3.45 pm, a military commander and several of his men gathered in front of the dormitory, alleging that the students had broken one of the flag poles and subsequently thrown the flag into the drainage ditch. Thereupon, the military members broke the plastic boards and tared off several banners which the students had attached to the fence for privacy protection. Plaincloth and uniformed police officers witnessed the acts of vandalism without interfering. A military member and a plaincloth officer allegedly threatened to kill the students if they dare to leave the dormitory. In the late afternoon a larger number of ORMAS members started to gather in front of the dormitory, shouting racist insults such as ‘animals’, ‘dogs’, ‘pigs’ and ‘monkeys’. The ORMAS members threatened to ‘butcher’ the students if they would leave the dormitory. Police and ORMAS members waited in front of the dormitory until the early morning hours.

Early in the morning of 17 August 2019, two students of the Indonesian Student Solidarity Group and the Surabaya National Student Front were arrested as they tried to bring water and food for the locked-in Papuan students. Around 1.20 pm, members of nationalist mass organisations again gathered in front of the dormitory, shouting racist insults and threats and singing the Indonesian national anthem. At 2.40 pm, members of the police SWAT team, armed with automatic rifles and shields, broke down the dormitory front gate and fired multiple teargas grenades into the dormitory building.

The SWAT team entered the dormitory (see intro image to this article) and forced 43 Papuan students at gun point to leave the dormitory premises in squatting position. The police seized their mobile phones and forced the students to enter four police trucks. On the way to the truck, the police officers reportedly kicked the students and punched them with bare hands. The SWAT team members allegeldy stroke two students with rifle butts. Five Papuan students sustained injuries during the police raid. The students were brought to the Surabaya municipality police headquarters (Mapolrestabes Suarabaya), where they were detained and questioned. All students were released around midnight.

Table with Papuan students who were subjected to ill-treatment and torture during the police raid on the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya

No

Name

Gender

Age

Additional information

1

E.W.

female

19

was punched

2

N.K.

male

24

right hand got strained as police officer pushed him when entering the car

3

A.U.

male

56

sustained bruises on the temple after being beaten with a rifle butt

4

K.

male

23

was beaten with a rifle butt

5

F.P.

male

33

was hit by a teargas grenade on the leg as police SWAT team raided the dormitory

Semarang, Central Java Province
On 18 August 2019, at 8.15 am, ORMAS members, representatives of the neighbourhood and sub-district administration (RW or Rukun Warga & RT Rukun Tetangga), community members and police officers came to the Papuan student dormitory in Semarang, Jawa Tengah Province, and attached a banner in front of the dormitory fence, stating ‘We, the residents of the Candi sub-district do not agree that the West Papua dormitory is used for activities aiming for the separation of Papua from the unitary state of Indonesia. If the afore mentioned occurs we have agreed to reject the presence of West Papuans in the Candi sub-district – The unity of the Indonesian state is non-negotiable’(‘Kami warga Kel. Candi TIDAK setuju Asrama West Papua digunakan untuk kegiatan yang mengarah pemisahan Papua dari NKRI. Jika hal tersebut di atas dilakukan Kami sepakat menolak keberadaan West Papua di Kelurahan Candi – NKRI Harga Mati’). Local residents appeared to attach the banner in response to the incidents in Malang and Surabaya.

Around 11.30 am, the dormitory residents in vain attempted to negotiate with the RW and RT representatives and police members to remove the banner. The Police and ORMAS members rejected the students request. Instead, they demanded to check the Papuan students ID cards and document the names of all dormitory residents. The local Police and Ormas members left the dormitory at 12.12 pm after the RW and RT representatives to registered their students’ identities. The banner was not removed (see image below).

Banner papuan student dorm semarang