Indonesia: Killings, torture, mass arrests and excessive use of force against Papuans
commemorating 1 December
We are writing to you on behalf of TAPOL, International Coalition of Papua (ICP), Franciscans
International, VIVAT International-Indonesia, KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and
Victims of Violence) and the Legal Aid Institute Jakarta (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Jakarta, LBH
Jakarta) in relation to the killings, torture, mass arrests and excessive use of force against
indigenous Papuans participating in activities commemorating 1 December, a date they consider
to be their national day, during 28 November – 1 December 2015. We believe that the conduct of
Indonesian security forces violated the fundamental right to life, the right to freedom from
torture and the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
These mass arrests, killings, torture and excessive use of force represent a severe decline in the
environment for free expression and assembly in Indonesia. While it is sadly common for Papuan
demonstrators to face human rights abuses within their home region, recent police action in
Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta shows that Papuans who express their opinions remain at risk
of arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment throughout Indonesia. We believe that recent police action
against indigenous Papuans, student demonstrators and journalists across Indonesia – in Jakarta,
Yapen Island and Nabire – represents a systematic pattern of repression of dissenting Papuan
We believe that the pattern of mass arrests and the use of excessive force and torture by
security forces in Papua will continue unless action is taken. We, the undersigned organisations,
are seriously concerned at this deterioration in the situation for Papuans seeking to peacefully
express their views. We therefore urge you to:
- Raise these cases with the Indonesian government, stressing the right to remedy, reparation, restitution, compensation, non-repetition, and punishment of the perpetrators, in line with the UN Guidelines on the right to remedy.
- Raise these cases and the urgent and serious trend it represents in a public statement.
We further request that you enter into dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on torture, the
Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions
on the matter.
Background and context
1 December marks the date which West Papuans consider to be their national day, although this
is not recognized by the Government of Indonesia. Peaceful commemorative activities are
sometimes held on significant dates such as 1 December, and 1 May, which marks the
anniversary of the administrative transfer of West Papua to Indonesia in 1963. Such
commemorative activities may include the raising of the Morning Star flag and community prayer
sessions. Indigenous Papuans who participate in such activities have been subject to arbitrary
detention, excessive use of force and even torture.
According to information from civil society monitoring collective Papuans Behind Bars, since
2012, 11 people have been arrested for commemorating 1 December, while 42 people have
been arrested for commemorating 1 May. In 2015, a total of 355 people were arrested, while
four people were killed due to shootings and torture and at least 145 people were injured due to
excessive use of force by state security forces in reaction to activities commemorating 1
December. Similarly, 264 people were arrested in three cities in Papua because of their
participation in peaceful activities commemorating 1 May this year. These mass arrests represent
an urgent decline for the respect of the human rights of indigenous Papuans seeking to exercise
their right to free speech and assembly by Indonesian police and military authorities.
On 1 December 2015, four people were killed and eight others seriously injured by military
officers from Military District Command 1709 and Yapen Regional Police during a security patrol
in Wanampompi village in Anggaisera District, Yapen Island regency. Yonas Manitori and Darius
Andiribi died on the spot after being shot, while Herik Manitori and Yulianus Robaha were
tortured to death after suffering initial gunshot wounds. Eight other villagers also suffered
serious injuries as a result of security officers opening fire.
Information from local human rights sources reported that villagers in Wanampompi village held
annual commemorative activities on 1 December. This included the raising of the Morning Star
flag followed by a prayer session.
Torture and arbitrary use of firearms
On 1 December 2015, at 06:00, a joint security task force conducted a patrol in Wanampompi
village in Anggaisera District, Yapen Island Regency. The task force consisted of officers from the
Yapen Regional Police (Polres Yapen) and Military District Command 1709. Yonas Manitori, a local
villager, was shot and died on the spot when he approached the convoy and questioned the
purpose of the patrol. Upon seeing this, two other villagers, Herik Manitori and Yulius Robaha,
attempted to come to the aid of Yonas Manitori, but were both shot. When other villagers
attempted to help the three men, security forces reacted by firing shots at them. The shootings
led to death of another villager, Darius Andiribi, and seriously injured eight other people. Upon
being shot, Herik Manitori and Yulianus Robaha were both dragged onto trucks and tortured to
death. Herik Manitori’s stomach was torn open with a bayonet blade and his eyes were damaged
by an unknown method of torture. The type of torture faced by Yulianus Robaha is unknown.
Please refer to Appendix 1 to find detailed information on 12 victims of violence perpetrated by
security forces in Yapen Island on 1 December 2015.
On 1 December, 306 people were arrested in Jakarta after attempting to conduct a long march to
commemorate the date which West Papuans consider to be their national day. Most of those
arrested were Papuan students who were members of the Papuan Student Alliance (Aliansi
Mahasiswa Papua, AMP). According to comprehensive reports from AMP, at least 133 people
suffered injuries and/or health complications when Jakarta Metro police officers (Polda Metro
Jaya), uniformed and plainclothes intelligence officers and Mobile Brigades (Brigade Mobil,
Brimob) officers attempted to forcibly disperse demonstrators by beating them and firing teargas
in their direction. At least five of the 133 injured suffered serious injuries (see Table 2). Two
female protestors faced sexual abuse by police officers when they were stopped on their way to
join the demonstration. Two foreign journalists faced police intimidation and harassment,
including one of them, Archicco Guilianno from Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), being
beaten by a police officer.
Excessive use of force and arbitrary arrests
According to credible information from local human rights sources, arbitrary arrests, detention
and excessive use of force occurred in different locations close to the Hotel Indonesia traffic
roundabout in Central Jakarta. Demonstrators had intended to gather at the roundabout before
embarking on a march headed towards the Presidential Palace.
At around 08:30, the first group of demonstrators had gathered outside BCA bank, close to the
Hotel Indonesia traffic roundabout. They were closely guarded and contained by Jakarta Metro
police officers, Public Order police (Sabhara), traffic police and intelligence officers.
Representatives from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Jakarta, LBH
Jakarta), who provided legal accompaniment for AMP, attempted to negotiate with police
officers to allow demonstrators to continue with the planned march. During the containment,
police officers attempted to force demonstrators to remove articles of clothing and decoration
which displayed the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence.
At 10:43, the demonstrators attempted to join another group of demonstrators that had
gathered at a second location nearby, but were blocked by security forces. At 11:00, after
another failed attempt at negotiating with the police, demonstrators attempted to break out of
the police blockade three times. Police reportedly reacted by firing tear gas, throwing stones and
sticks and firing one blank round and one live round at demonstrators. Niko Suhun, a 23-year-old
Papuan student and AMP member, was shot in the head with a rubber bullet and collapsed on
the spot. Police continued to beat him with batons when he was unconscious. Zet Tabuni, a 26-
year-old AMP member, was beaten when he attempted to help Niko Suhun when he collapsed.
Tabuni was reportedly punched on the temple by a police officer wearing a knuckleduster ring.
Reports stated that from 11:00 to 12:20, police continued to contain the group of demonstrators,
kicking and beating them with rattan canes.
According to an AMP report, at least 133 people suffered injuries from tear gas inhalation and
excessive use of force employed by police officers. Local sources collected detailed information
on thirteen demonstrators that suffered ill-treatment during the demonstration (see Appendix
2). Two female demonstrators – Eka Kosay and Martina Douw – faced sexual assault and
harassment by police officers when they were on their way to join other demonstrators at the
Hotel Indonesia roundabout.
At around 12:20, police began rounding up demonstrators and forcing them into buses to be
detained in Jakarta Metro Police Headquarters (Polda Metro Jaya).
Information received by credible local human rights sources reported that at around 08:35, a
second group of demonstrators gathered outside the German Embassy, close to the Hotel
Indonesia traffic roundabout, were similarly contained and guarded by Jakarta city police and
Brimob officers. Attempts to negotiate with police to allow them to continue with the planned
march were unsuccessful. At around 11:10, police announced to demonstrators that the
gathering was only allowed until 12:00. At 12:00, at least 151 demonstrators were rounded into
Crowd Control (Pengendalian Massa, Dalmas) vehicles to be detained in Jakarta Metro Police
Headquarters. 22 demonstrators gathered at a third location were similarly arrested and brought
to Jakarta Metro Police Headquarters.
Attack and harassment of journalists
Two foreign journalists faced intimidation and harassment while reporting on the AMP
demonstration in Jakarta. Archicco Guilliano from Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was
struck by police officers when he refused to bow to their demands of erasing footage he had
recorded of violence inflicted on demonstrators. Stephanie Vaessen from Al Jazeera was
reportedly filming the demonstration on her mobile phone when she was approached by five
police officers who ordered her to delete the footage. When she refused, the police officers
reportedly snatched her phone and deleted the footage before returning it to her.
Arbitrary detention and criminal charges against two demonstrators
According to AMP demonstrators who were detained in Jakarta Metro Police Headquarters,
police intimidated and threatened the detainees. At around 17:00, all but 22 demonstrators were
released from detention. The 22 people left in detention underwent further interrogation. At
11:00, 20 of the 22 detainees were released. The two remaining detainees, Enos Suhun and
Eliakim Itlay, were charged with violence against persons or property, incitement, violence or
threat of violence against a state officer and maltreatment under Articles 170, 170, 212 and 351
of the Indonesian Criminal Code. On 4 December, the two men, who are students at a vocational
teaching college (STKIP Surya Tangerang) in Tangerang, were released from detention in Jakarta
Metro Police Headquarters. They are currently required to report regularly to the police and are
expected to stand trial imminently.
49 people were arrested in two separate incidents in Nabire in relation to peaceful activities in
commemoration of 1 December. On 28 November 2015, 17 Papuans were detained by Nabire
police and Brimob officers when they attempted to clean a site at Bunga Bangsa Papua Field in
preparation for a prayer session in commemoration of 1 December. The 17 men were detained
overnight and released the following day. On 1 December 2015, 32 Papuans were arrested when
they assembled at Bunga Bangsa Papua Field to participate in the commemorative prayer
session. Police officers forcibly dispersed the crowd, reportedly beating people with rifle butts
and wooden beams. The 32 detainees were interrogated at Nabire Regional Police Station before
being released without charge. Credible reports from local human rights sources stated that at
least four of the detainees sustained injuries due to police beatings. Please refer to Appendix 3 to
find detailed information on victims of excessive use of force by police in Nabire on 1 December
Intimidation and attack of Papuan journalist
On 1 December, Topilus B Tebai, the editor of Papuan news site Majalah Selangkah, was
intimidated and harassed by Nabire Regional police officers while reporting on the planned
commemorative prayer session. 2 Tebai was taking photos of police activity at the scene when he
was approached by two police officers who stopped him and asked for his camera. One of the
police officers reportedly tried to kick Tebai. When he told the police officers that he was a
journalist and showed his press card, they began yelling at him and demanded to speak to his
superiors. When Tebai protested, five more police officers forcibly removed his camera, kicked
him and removed him from the area.
We request you to raise these cases with the Indonesian government, urging them to:
- Support the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia and other independent human rights bodies to conduct impartial, thorough and transparent investigations into the deaths, arrests and excessive use of force on Papuans commemorating 1 December.
- Unconditionally release all those who have been arrested as a result of peaceful activities commemorating 1 May, and all those imprisoned for expressing their opinions and beliefs.
- Ensure that national and international journalists and institutions are free to conduct journalistic work without restriction, in accordance with international human rights standards.
- Protect, promote and fulfil its human rights obligations under international law by respecting the fundamental right of Papuans and all Indonesians to free expression, assembly and association.
We also urge you to:
- Visit Papua as a matter of priority, in order to show your concern and to assess the situation directly.
- Encourage and support visits to Papua by parliamentary delegations.
International Coalition of Papua
KontraS (Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence)
Legal Aid Institute Jakarta (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Jakarta, LBH Jakarta)