Indonesian-wide ‘Trikora’ Commemorations accompanied by mass arrests – at least 107 peaceful protesters arrested, many ill-treated

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The 19 December 1961 marks a historic date in Indonesia – it was the date on which the Indonesian army launched the Trikora operation, a military offensive with the aim to seize and annex the former Dutch colonial territory of Netherlands New Guinea. Indigenous Papuans and Pro-Papuan activists in multiple cities throughout Indonesia organised peaceful commemorations on the 19 December 2018. In various cities security forces responded with mass arrests or forcefully dispersed the crowd. According to human rights activists, security force members ill-treated protesters as they conducted arrests in Jayapura and Ternate, Maluku Utara Province. In the Javanese city of Malang, 16 peaceful protesters were subjected to ill-treatments by plain cloth officers and members of nationalist mass organisations. A similar incident was reported from Denpasar, Bali, where the forceful dispersal by police officers and members of nationalist mass organisations resulted in the ill-treatment of four protesters.

Arfi Asso victim SecForce Violance WaenaThe most severe forms of torture and ill-treatment during the ‘Trikora’ Commemorations were reported from the city of Ternate, where members of FRI-WP movement (Front Rakyat Indonesia untuk West Papua) had organised a peaceful demonstration. Plain cloth officers arrested 7 protesters and one student who allegedly recorded the arrests with his mobile phone. The eight arrestees were brought to the Kodim 1501 military base in Ternate, where they were interrogated and collectively punished for participation in the demonstration. Security force members cut the protesters hair, forced them to open their clothes and collectively beat them on the back, the back of the head and in the face. Subsequently, the arrestees were allegedly forced to sing the Indonesian national anthem without shirt while being exposed to the sun. The officers also forced the activists to roll on the basket ball court inside the military base. Two arrestees were reportedly tortured and intimidated during interrogation. An arrested protester stated that an officer hit him with a wooden beam, every time he was asked a question. Another protester said that an officer threatened to empty the ashtray into his mouth if he would not answer truthfully.

Table with arrests during peaceful ‘Trikora” commemoration on 19 December 2018


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police released warning shots to disperse the crowd, at least 3 protesters named Jefri Wenda, Sely Tebai (see intro image), and Arfi Asso (see image right) were ill-treated








Group of protesters were prevented from leaving the KNPB offlice, from where they wanted to start the demonstration




130 peaceful protesters prevented from leaving the local KNPB office


Malang (Java Timur Province)


16 protesters ill-treated by plain cloth officers and members of nationalist mass organisations, 3 protesters bruised, 4 protesters sustained bleeding injuries


Ternate (Maluku Utara Province)


7 protesters and on bystander who took picture of the demonstration,


Denpasar (Bali Province)


Demonstration with 64 peaceful protesters dispersed, 4 protesres beaten by security force members and members of nationalist mass organisations, one of them sustained bleeding injury