35 protesters arrested during peaceful demonstration in Bintuni, Papua Barat Province

The Manokwari Institute for Research Study and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari) has documented the arrests of protestors during a peaceful demonstration in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) in Bintuni, Papua Barat Province. On 8 September 2018 at 08.00 am, members of mobile police brigade (Brimob) unit Sub Den-4 Bintuni arrested 35 protestors (see image on the left) and detained them at the Bintuni sub-district police station (POLSEK Bintuni). The head of Teluk Bintuni district police stated in an interview with the Papuan new outlet Suara Papua that the demonstration was carried out without “permission”. Yan Christian Warinussi, the director of LP3BH Manokwari suspected that the police conducted the arrests because some protesters waved a morning star flag (see image  below).

 DEMO ULMWP BintuniThe flag is a symbol of cultural identity in West Papua but is also used by the Papuan independence movement as a political emblem. However, Yan Christian Warinussi referred to a recent decision by the Indonesian Constitutional Court on 31 January 2018, which states that the possession of a flag is insufficient evidence for a treasonous act and can not become the legal grounds for a criminal prosecution. Warinussi urged the police to allow access to lawyers during detention or to release the protesters without pressing charges against them.   


Table with names of 15 protestors, arrested during the demonstration


Boy P.Kadop


Yoke Maidepa (female)


William Ayorbaba


Viktor Makamuke


Alfredo Bisay


Aser Paratoi


Andarias Ayomi


David Suanburaro


Eljon Agaki


Yeri Fymbay


Alex Aronggear


Kristian Paratoi (female)


Markus Umpes




Agus Kutumun



In West Papua, the police usually uses the lack of a “police acknowledgement letter” (“Surat Tanda Terima Pemberitahuan” STTP) in response to a “notification letter for a demonstration” as reason to declare demonstrations illegal. Human rights activists reported a large number of cases, in which the police did not issue a “police acknowledgement letter” (STTP) in order to prevent particular Papuan civil society groups from the enjoyment of their right to freedom of expression. If demonstrations take place without the ”acknowledgement letter”, security forces frequently disperse protests arguing that the organizing entity did not receive the STTP.

Police officers refuse to issue acknowledgement letters to Papuan civil society groups which are are outspoken supporters of political self-determination, particularly the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), the West Papua National Authority (WPNA), the West Papua National Parliament (PNWP) and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL). In the past years, members and supporters of these organisations have been arrested as they conducted peaceful demonstrations, some of them being tortured, ill-treated and criminally prosecuted. In multiple cases, activists were arbitrarily arrested as they submitted the information letter to the local police station.