Killings, Arrests and Torture Overshadow the 54th Commemoration of 1st December in West Papua

Every year indigenous Papuans come together on 1st December to commemorate the first raising of the West Papuan Morning Star Flag with the promise of full independence by the former Dutch colonial government. The 54th anniversary was overshadowed by security forces' violent acts against the peaceful protesters.

Local human rights defenders have reported of arbitrary arrests, torture and killings of four Papuans during commemorations in Serui, Nabire and Jakarta. At least 145 people were injured due to excessive use of force by state security forces during the violent dispersals. Furthermore, police officers intimidated and hindered two foreign journalists from filming.


 Arbitrary Violence During Flag Ceremony At Wanapompi Village, Kepulauan Yapen Regency
On December 1st, 2015, at 06.20, joint police and military forces killed four Papuans and seriously injured 8 villagers during a joint patrol in Wanapompi village in Anggaisera District, Yapen Island Regency. According to local sources the patrol was carried out by forces from 1709/Yawa Military District Command and Yapen district police. The security forces instantly opened fire as they saw a group of villagers participating in a ceremonial raising of the Papuan Morning Star Flag.

Victim Serui scaled cropped

Erik Manitori (45) was shot in the lower abdomen as he approached the security forces and questioned the purpose of the patrol. Three other villagers named Yonas Manitori (42), Yulianus Robaha (56) and Darius Andiribi (56) were shot down as they attempted to help Erik Manitori attempted. Thereupon other villagers came approached the four victims to provide first aid, the security forces began to fire directed shots at the crowd, seriously injuring eight other villagers with bullets (Picture: GKI-TP Chairman Alberth Yoku S.Th. during his visit of injured villagers in Wanapompi)


Arrests And Maltreatments At Oyehe Field, Nabire Regency
Police arbitrarily arrested 49 Papuans, related to a devotion for the commemoration of 1st December at the Oyehe Field in Nabire City. Local activists had informed the head of Nabire district police about the devotion, whereupon the police chief stated that he will prevent the gathering. Thereupon, police officers arrested 17 Papuans on 28 November 2015, as they were cleaning the field in preparation for the devotion. They were released the following day.

 photo 32 orang yang di tahan di polres 1 desember   2015.resized

On December 1st, around 10.00, a group of participants gathered in front of the Oyehe Field to attend the worship, even though the organizing committee had canceled the devotion. 30 minutes later, police officers harshly arrested 32 Papuans. Most of the detainees were tortured and beaten with bare hands and rifle butts during the arrest and the police interrogation (Picture: some of the 32 detainees after their release from police custody).

Topilus B Tebai, the editor of Papuan news site Majalah Selangkah, was intimidated and harassed by Nabire Regional police officers while reporting on the planned commemorative prayer session. Tebai was taking photos of police activity at the scene when he was approached by two police officers who stopped him and asked for his camera. One of the police officers reportedly tried to kick Tebai. When he told the police officers that he was a journalist and showed his press card, they began yelling at him and demanded to speak to his superiors. When Tebai protested, five more police officers forcibly removed his camera, kicked him and removed him from the area.


Demonstration At The Roundabout In Front Of Hotel Indonesia, Jakarta City
306 Papuans, most of the students, were forcefully arrested during the attempt to conduct a long march for the commemoration of December 1st, organized by the Papuan Students Alliance (AMP). During the forceful dispersal, Jakarta Metro police officers (Polda Metro Jaya), uniformed and plainclothes intelligence officers (Intelkam) and fully equipped Mobile Brigades members (Brimob) carried out arrests in front of the BCA building next to the roundabout in front of Hotel Indonesia, in front of the German Embassy at Jalan Thamrin, and the Graha Mandiri cross junction. Local human rights organizations reported that 133 demonstrators suffered injuries due to the violent dispersal with tear gas, batons, sticks and shields. Some reports also mentioned the use of live ammunition and rubber bullets. Two female students faced sexual assault and harassment by police officers during the arrest (Picture: Papuan students sitting on the floor while listening to the orations as being surrounded by police forces).

Demo Jakarta December1

Police officers also intimidated and physically hindered  two foreign journalists in carrying out their journalistic duties, as they were filming the violent dispersal in Jakarta. Archicco Guilliano from Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) was struck by police officers when he refused to erase footage he had recorded of the demonstration. Stephanie Vaessen from Al Jazeera, who was filming the demonstration on her mobile phone, was approached by five police officers who ordered her to delete the footage and snatched her phone as she refused the request. Subsequently, the officers deleted the footage and returned the mobile phone to her.

Most of the detained students were still released the same day, whereas 2 demonstrators remained in custody and were charged with the Articles 170, 170, 212 and 351 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) with accusations of violence against persons or property, incitement, violence or threat of violence against a state officer and maltreatment. The two Papuans students were finally released on December 4 and will face a trial.

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