Police officers arrested the Chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) local branch in Intan Jaya, Nataniel Tipagau (see photo), on 4 January 2021 in front of the Yapis University Campus in Jayapura. According to the Papuan Police Chief, Paulus Waterpauw, the police was already looking for Nataniel Tipagau since January 2020 for alleged violation of Article 1(1) of the Emergency Law No. 12/1951 on illegal use, possession or distribution of firearms (see police letter below). The Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) raised concerns over allegations of various procedural violations during his arrest and detention. LBH Papua will provide legal support for Tipagau but could not meet him during detention.
Nataniel Tipagau was arrested around 5.00 pm, as he was walking with relatives to an ATM. Plainclothes officers reportedly jumped out of a black civilian vehicle and dragged Nataniel Tipagau into the car. The officers did not show a warrant at the time of arrest. Shortly after the arrest, rumours about the alleged enforced disappearance of Nataniel Tipagau spread on social media because the police did not inform the relatives in writing about the arrest. Moreover, LBH Papua lawyers were prevented from meeting Nataniel Tipagau during his detention at the Papuan Regional Police (Polda Papua) Headquarters.
Emanuel Gobay, the director of LBH Papua, raised concerns about another suspect’s unlawful detention in the same case. A police representative explained during a meeting at the Polda Papua headquarters on 5 January 2021 that the alleged accomplice of Nataniel Tipagau had been arrested in January 2020 and is still in police custody for almost one year. Meanwhile, Tipagau’s wife has signed an attorney letter stating that LBH Papua will provide legal support for Nataniel Tipagau during the law enforcement process.
Police letter, mentioning Nataniel Tipagau as wanted person for alleged violation of Article 1(1) of the Emergency Law No. 12/1951 on illegal use, possession or distribution of firearms