West Papuan independence movement leader Victor Yeimo was detained and allegedly beaten by police on Monday as another prominent Indonesian national politician warned Western countries against supporting separatists in the troubled province.
But police spokesman Senior Commissioner I Gede Sumerta Jaya denied that Mr Yeimo and three other protesters had been harmed, saying they were simply detained for up to 24 hours because they had failed to secure a proper permit for a rally.
The rally was held to protest against the fatal police shooting of three protesters in demonstrations on May 1.
Mr Yeimo, the leader of the unarmed KNPB separatist movement, was detained after police said the rally was disturbing traffic, and that its organisers had failed to nominate how large it would be.
About 200 protesters were outnumbered by 700 police and 22 police trucks, the province’s Baptist Church leader, Socratez Yoman, said.
But, asked if the four protesters were beaten, Commander Gede said:
”The police now are different. We don’t do that.
”Because their violations carry a penalty of less than one month, we cannot arrest them, but we have the right to question them for 24 hours,” he said.
In Jakarta, Ramadhan Pohan, the deputy secretary-general of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, again reinforced how sensitive Indonesian politicians are about West Papua and its 50-year-old separatist movement.
Mr Ramadhan, who is also the deputy chairman of the national parliament’s House Commission I, which oversees foreign relations, referred to the appearance of exiled independence leader Benny Wenda at the TEDx conference in Sydney in early May and called for Australia to be more sensitive.
”Australia or any friendly countries must be sensitive about Indonesia’s problem [of separatism],” he said.
”If later [it is proved] that Australia does support [Benny Wenda] the Government must be firm in cutting off diplomatic ties. The unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia is a non-negotiable situation.”
A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said:
”As is widely recognised by the Indonesian government, the Australian government does not support independence for Indonesia’s Papuan provinces”.