On 7 April 2021, Cenderawasih University students in Jayapura launched a peaceful demonstration (see photo, source: Jubi) against the giant gold and copper mine owned by PT Freeport Indonesia (PT FI) subsidiary of transnational mining company Freeport McMoRan. The protesters demanded the government ban PT FI from operating in West Papua, as the company’s presence has been a driver of armed violence, land rights abuses, and environmental destruction for more than five decades.
About 300 joint security force members reportedly dispersed the crowd in three different locations, from where the protesters wanted to walk to the Governor’s office. Representatives of the Jayapura Municipality declared the protest illegal because the organisers had allegedly not met the registration requirements. Student representatives claim they had registered the protest following Indonesian law, but the police refused to issue a receipt letter confirming the registration. The officers arrested and temporarily detained three protesters named Ayus Heluka, Herrian Soll and Asael Wanimbo.
Student representatives criticised the police for dispersing the peaceful protest without clear reasons. They expressed concerns about the shrinking democratic space in West Papua, which prevents Papuan people from voicing their aspirations in public, as guaranteed by international human rights law and the Indonesian constitution.