Police officers forcefully disperse peaceful protest at Freeport Mine – at least one worker tortured

Police officers forcefully dispersed a peaceful protest by Freeport workers at the Freeport mine in the Tembaggapura District of Mimika Regency on 27 June 2021. According to information received by the ‘Reconciliation and Prayer Network for the Recovery of Papua’ (JDRP2), Freeport employees had set up a roadblock at Mile 72. They voiced their rejection against a forced vaccination with the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Sinovac. Previously, rumours had spread that the Freeport management was considering introducing a mandatory vaccination policy. Police officers allegedly dispersed the crowd using excessive force. At least one protester sustained bruises and injuries as a result of police violence. According to JDRP2, officers arrested twenty other protesters and temporarily detained them at the Mimika District Police headquarters in the town of Timika.

Around 10.15 pm, a representative of the Freeport management talked with the protesters and ensured that the management would not force any workers to get vaccination shots. The situation escalated as the local police chief gave the order to remove the roadblock. According to JDRP2, the police officers released multiple warning shots and dismantled a tent where the protesters gathered. They dispersed the crowd using violence. At least one protester named Mr Yosua Kotouki, an employee of Freeport sub-contractor PT Pangansari Utama, sustained a bleeding nose, a cut next to the right eye as well as swellings on his right cheek and eye after an officer beat him with a rifle butt to the face (see photo, source: JDRP2). Other workers sustained minor injuries as police officers punched and kicked the protesters.