The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk (JPIC) of the Christian Evangelical Church in Papua (GKI-TP) has reported the arbitrary arrest of a group of indigenous Papuans in the District of Nimbontong of Jayapura Regency. On 21 November 2017, members of the Jayapura District Police arbitrarily arrest 14 indigenous Papuans who were on their way home to Juk Lereh, Genyem District. During the detention at the Sub-district police station, the arrestees were accused of being members of the armed separatist movement. The police prevented a lawyer and a local journalist from meeting with the arrestees.
Prior to the arrest, a man who introduced himself as M. Wenda, had approached the group and gave one of the group members a document with a letter head of the ‘Revolutionary Army of West Papua’(RAWP). Joint police and military members later stopped the bus at a control point in the Nimbontong area and searched the passengers luggage inside the bus. The police confiscated the RAWP document, a knife, 2 long machetes and two cassowary bones, which are commonly used as traditional tools to open Pandanus fruits and arrested the entire group of 14 Papuan men without warrant. Around 5.00 pm, the group was brought to the Jayapura District Police Station in Doyo Baru- Sentani. On the way to the Police station one police officer intimidated the arrestees, allegedly making the statement ”If anyone does not follow our orders, we will get rid of you”.
Around 12.00 pm the police started to interrogate the group members for approximately two and a half hours. Botak Tabuni, Tap Gombo, Tomatias Gombo dan Yunus Wanimbo were accused of being a member of the armed separatist movement TPN-OPM. Police officers repeatedly asked them “how many soldiers have you killed? So you are already in the rank of generals – where were you inaugurated?”. The four men answered that they were civil citizens working at the Palm Oil Company of PT. Sinar Mas and that they were not involved in the struggle for West Papuan independence.
A lawyer who wanted to provide legal assistance to the detainees was prevented from entering the police station and had to wait at the security post at the entrance gate. The officers also stopped a journalist from the local news outlet JUBI who wanted to enter the police station. During the detention period from 09.00 am, 21 November to 02.48 pm, November 22, 2017, all the detainees were not provided with food. Each detainee was given a bottle (600 ml) of water on November 21, 2017, at 4.00 pm when the suspects were still in Nimbontong. On Wednesday, November 22, 2017, 02.48 pm all group members were released and given food by police officers.