Public order police prohibit peaceful assembly and intimidates protesters in Deiyai

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In the Deiyai Regency, Papua province, the local police prohibited a peaceful assembly against the prolongation of the special autonomy and the planned administrative partition of the Papua Province into five provinces. A civil society group named Papuan People Solidarity (SRP) planned to organise an open panel discussion in the town of Waghete on 19 April 2021. Still, the local police decided to ban the event on short notice. Members of the public order police task force (Satpol PP), together with two indigenous leaders, reportedly drove through Waghete and intimidated the residents with megaphones, warning them not to participate in the public assembly. SRP finally cancelled the panel discussion.

According to local media outlets, the SRP submitted an information letter to the police and discussed the event with the Deiyai district police chief (Kapolres Deiyai) on 14 April 2021. Although the police refused to issue a receipt letter confirming the registration of the public assembly, the Kapolres agreed to the event under the condition that the SRP must cooperate with the police to ensure that the event will proceed peacefully. The Kapolres again re-confirmed his consent during an informal meeting with SRP representatives on 18 April 2021.

In the late afternoon of 18 April 2021, one of the organisers received a phone call from the Deiyai Satpol PP secretary, Gergo Mote, explaining that high ranking military commanders in Deiyai disagreed with the event. Shortly after the phone call, Gergo Mote delivered a letter to the SRP, stating that the protest was prohibited due to security concerns. SRP believes that the Satpol PP and the military had pressured the district police to issue the cancellation letter.

In the early morning of 19 April 2020, two tribal leaders and Satpol PP members reportedly drove with multiple cars through Waghete. They called upon the residents not to participate in the open panel. Otherwise, participants will have to expect the full rigour of the law. Meanwhile, many heavily armed Satpol PP members and vehicles (see photo, source: Suara Papua) gathered near the event location to intimidate participants. SRP finally decided to cancel the open panel.