Activists Arrested for Peaceful Boycott

PapuansBehindBarsLogo200pxAt least 36 people were arrested in Jayapura, Timika, Fak-Fak and Wamena during July 2014 for their peaceful involvement in calling for a boycott of the Indonesian Presidential Elections on 9 July. Local human rights activists reported that Papuans in these areas faced intimidation from police who attempted to force them to vote in the elections.


On 3 July, six activists from the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) were arrested in front of the campus of Cenderawasih University (Universitas Cenderawasih, UNCEN) for giving out flyers calling for an election boycott. The six men – Ono Balingga, Hakul Kobak, Yandri Heselo, Gesman Tabuni, Ronal Wenda and another unnamed man – were beaten on arrest and interrogated at Jayapura Regional police station. They have since been released without charge.

On 4 July, seven KNPB members were arrested for distributing flyers calling for an election boycott. The seven men – Ruben Kayun, Deky Akum, Kaitanus Siminak, Apollos Simare, Yanuarius Enakat, Gerson Banam and Anthon Damkokor – were arrested by military officers before being handed over to Timika Regional police. With the exception of Kayun, all were released without charge after a few hours in detention. The KNPB reported that Kayun was initially charged with Article 160 for incitement but was later released on 16 July. It is not clear whether the charges have been dropped or not. Testimony from Kayun about his time in detention states that he faced ill-treatment from Timika police. Upon release police also followed him back to his house where they took pictures of his home in a bid to intimidate him.

On 5 July, Mama Umi Safisa was arrested by police for distributing flyers calling for a boycott of the 9 July elections. KNPB members gathered outside Kaimana Regional police station where Mama Safisa was detained and attempted to negotiate for her release, however they were forcibly dispersed by police. KNPB Kaimana leader Ruben Furay, who was amongst those protesting against her detention, was reportedly beaten by police.

A report received via email from local activists reported a total number of 22 boycott related arrests, with nine people remaining in detention. On 9 July, 18 people were arrested in Wamena for their involvement in the distribution of flyers calling for an election boycott. Out of the 18 people arrested, 13 have already been released from Jayawijaya Regional police station. The five still detained are reported to be Yosep Siep, Ibrahim Marian, Marsel Marian, Yance Walilo and Yosasam Serabut. On 14 July, a further four people were arrested by security forces, reportedly because they chose not to vote in the Presidential Elections. The four men – Sudi Wetipo, Elius Elosak, Domi Wetipo and Agus Doga – are reportedly still in detention at Jayawijaya Regional police station.

A report received from a human rights investigator described harassment and threats against village leaders in villages Tomon I and Tomon II in Yahukimo to submit votes on behalf of their communities, despite the decision taken by both communities to boycott the elections.

Read the full report on Papuans Behind Bars