Unlawful Mass Arrests of 326 West Papuans between May 28 and May 31, 2016

To the attention of:
Mr. Maina Kiai,
UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association

Mr. David Kaye
UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression


This urgent appeal provides updated information on growing tensions in West Papua, which have resulted in an increase of cases of arbitrary arrest and torture, as described in a previous urgent appeal on Unlawful Mass Arrests of at least 1,783 West Papuans in April and early May 2016, submitted by the International Coalition of Papua (ICP), Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), Franciscans International (FI)1 on May 17, 2016. The record high of mass arrests including the use of torture and ill-treatment of peaceful political protesters is related to growing political tensions in West Papua2 due to increasing popularity for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP – a political organisation of West Papua outside Indonesia) amongst many Papuans.


We are writing to you on behalf of the Papuan Institute for Human Rights Advocacy and Research (ELSHAM Papua), Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Department of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (KPKC-KINGMI Papua), West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Office for Justice and Peace of Archdiocese of Merauke (SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke), and the Institute for Legal Aid, Manokwari Institute of Research, Assessment and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari) and with support of further organisations3 in relation to theunlawful arrests of 326 peaceful Papuan demonstrators between May 28 and May 31, 2016. The arrests occurred prior and during demonstrations on May 31, 2016 (see Annex I and Annex II).

The demonstration was organized by the West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) in support of the full membership of ULMWP in the intergovernmental organisation of pacific states Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the release of political prisoners in West Papua. The mass demonstrations on May, 31, 2016, took place in most major cities in West Papua, such as Dekai, Wamena, Jayapura, Sentani and Timika and Manado in North Sulawesi Province. In some cities like Merauke and Makassar, South Sulawesi Province, the peaceful demonstrations were canceled because police prohibited the protests and intimidated local activists. The unlawful mass arrests in Dekai and Wamena were accompanied by acts of torture and maltreatments against protesters during arrest and detention. All data on arrests was collected by the submitting civil society organisations themselves.

As stipulated by legal procedure in the Indonesian National Law No. 18/1998 about Expressing Opinion in Public, leaders of KNPB explained that they always fulfill the obligation by sending a letter of information to the police at least two days before the day of rally. According to this Law, there is no requirement for the organizer to request a permit, but only delivering information about the planned demonstration. Nevertheless, based on several reports from the grass roots, for the rally on 31 May, security apparatus had been massively deployed to stop the rally days before and during the action that took place. Not only from the police, but also involved some units of the Indonesian military forces.

There has been a drastic increase of unlawful arrests since April 2016. LBH Jakartareleased a report on the incidents, showing a total count of 1783 arbitrary arrests, stating that the information on 1,783 unlawful arrests has been verified and is consistent with its own telephone witness interviews. The report is based on testimonies collected on location by members of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat KNPB), Papuan Students Alliance (Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua AMP) and United Liberation Movement for West Papua ULMWP. According to LBH Jakarta, in total, 1,735 people were unlawfully on 2 May 2016.4

Particularly, KNPB members and supporters have become a major target of the Indonesian police and intelligence during the past two months. We are deeply concerned about the increasing number of arbitrary arrests and torture of indigenous Papuan activists and peaceful protesters during the past months. The Government of Indonesia has severely limited the freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of information in West Papua due to the growing number of supporters for the ULMWP. As a result, the role of the police in West Papua has shifted from an institution protecting theses rights to an institution oppressing these freedoms through unlawful arrests, excessive use of force, torture, censorship and prohibition of demonstrations with political content.


Chronology of Events


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Jayapura City

Officers from Jayapura district police unlawfully arrested 26 KNPB members in front of the Papuan Governor' s Office at Dok 2 while distributing leaflets for the demonstration on May 31, 2016 . The arrest occurred at 14.00 East Indonesia Time (EIT). Subsequently, the arrestees were brought to the police local station, where they were interrogated and detained until the evening. All of them were released the same day.


Around 09.00 EIT, police officers from Jayapura District Police unlawfully arrested 24 KNPB members in front of Sentani New Market, as they were distributing leaflets for the demonstration on May31, 2016. The police officers brought them to the Jayapura District police station at Doyo Baru, where all detainees were interrogated until the evening. All of them were released the same day.


Monday, May 30, 2016


At 11.30 EIT, joint security forces from Jayawijaya district police, Police Mobile Brigade Special Unit (BRIMOB) and Korem 756 Wamena military command rushed to the KNPB office at Patimura Street, using 7 trucks and 4 regular cars, where they arbitrarily arrested 51 KNPB members and subsequently detained them in the Wamena district police station. Three among the detainees are women. Some mobile brigade officers wore balaclavas to cover their faces, as it is commonly practiced during anti-terror operations.

On the first day of detention police officers only provided 19 portions of rice to the 51 detainees.All arrestees were interrogated without any clear accusation. The police stated that the arrestees were detained as part of their duty to maintain security in Wamena. Moreover, Police seized 2 cameras mobile phones, 1 digital camera, 1 motorcyle, and 1 laptop and forced one detainee named Asa Asso (27 years) to take off his shirt because the Morning Star Flag was printed on top of it.


At 10.30 EIT,police officers of Yahukimo District police arrested three KNPB members named Darpinus Bayage, Amiter Bahabol and Ison Bahabol near the former Yahukimo regency office, as they were distributing leaflets for the demonstration on May 31, 2016. The officers forced the 3 members to enter a car. On the way to Yahukimo district police station, police officers applied unknown methods of torture to the three men.


More than hundreds of police officers and intelligence members came to KNPB office on May 30, 2016, and questioned KNPB coordinator and secretary, Ms. Pangkrasia Yem and Petrus Tiniyap Katem about the demonstration on May 31, 2106. Later, around 21.30 EIT, two intelligent officers came to the KNP office that the registration letter submitted by KNPB was rejected and the demonstration prohibited.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Joint security force from the Jayawijaya district police, BRIMOB and Batalyon 756 Wim Ani Sili Wamena arrested twelve demonstrators at Potikelek market, from where the demonstrators planned to walk towards the local parliament building. One of the demonstrators was injured during arrest as a mobile brigade police officer kicked him. Other local sources reported that police officers beat some demonstrators with batons. At the police station the twelve arrestees were gathered with detainees, who were arrested the previous day. All 63 arrestees were detained over night in the corridor of the police station, next to the toilets and trash dumping area. Furthermore, police officers did not provide any food and drinks during one and half day of custody


Police officers from Jayapura police conducted a sweeping operation early in the morning in several areas prior to the demonstration. 16 young Papuans were arrested at Social Street in Sentani at 6.00 EIT. Another 16 persons, mostly university students, were unlawfully arrest near the GKI training center in Sentani (PUSPENKA GKI) as they were on their way to Abepura, where police officers stopped public transportation buses and checked the passengers' identity card. According to local informants the arrests were carried out based on tribal origin, because most KNPB supporters originate from the Central Highlands of West Papua. Police also arrested hundreds of KNPB supporters at the local KNPB office, at Pos 7.

Detainees witnessed that several police officers made humiliating statements about the protesters' tribal origin as highlanders during custody, stating that they were not taught well about Christianity and therefore keep on participating in demonstrations. Some police said that, 'Papua will never become independent'. All arrestees, in total 203 demonstrators, were gathered and detained at Jayapura district police station in Doyo Baru, Sentani. Police did not provide food and drinks to the arrestees during custody. Moreover, police officers seized cameras and mobile phones and erase all pictures and videos taken during the demonstration and arrest. All were released at 17.00 EIT the same day.


Joint security forces blocked the area around the local KNPB office in Timika with trucks in order to stop people who had gathered with pamphlets and banners from moving towards the city center of Timika.

Manado, North Sulawesi

At 10.00 EIT, police officers from North Sulawesi District Police in Manado unlawfully arrested seven KNPB members, all of them university students, at their boarding house. Subsequently, the seven students were detained at the district police station in Manado. According to one of the detainees, police officers stated that the KNPB members had planned and conducted a demonstration without prior permission of the local police.

Makassar, South Sulawesi

According to local sources, the police and intelligence in Makassar increased surveillance on all Papuan students in Makassar after KNPB members had submitted a registration letter regarding the demonstration on May 31, 2016. The letter was rejected without any clear legal reason. Due to the increased surveillance, KNPB members feared for their safety and finally decided to cancel the demonstration. KNPB organized a prayer meeting at the Cenderawasih Papua Boarding House, in Pasewan Street.

Yogyakarta, Central Java

Papuan students in Yogyakarta reported that the local police and intelligence increased surveillance on all Papuan students, even though KNPB did not plan to organize any demonstration. Several students reported that intelligent officers were collecting information and closely monitoring the area around the Papuan student dormitory information in the surrounding area prior to May 31, 2016. Some students stated that police had taken preventive measures, parking two cars, 4 trucks and 11 police motorcycles nearby Papuan Student dormitory on the morning of May 31, 2016.



We ask you to urge the Government of Indonesia:

  • to ensure freedom of information, freedom of peaceful assembly,freedom of expression and freedom of opinion in West Papua.
  • to open access to West Papua for international human rights organisations, journalists and international observers.
  • to develop and enforce policies that ensure the role of the police as a protector of the right to peaceful assembly and expression of political opinions
  • to conduct human rights trainings for police institutions in Papua, focusing on the practical implementation of international human rights obligations for government agencies with regard to the freedom of information, freedom of peaceful assembly freedom of expression and freedom of opinion in West Papua.
  • to assume responsibility of any human rights violation and abuse perpetrated by state security forces, either the police or the military, and not to blame individual police nor military personnel on duty. Therefore violation and abuses must be subject to proper legal proceedings.
  • to decide on the dates of the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, as it was agreed, and allow other UN special rapporteurs to visit West Papua.


Thank you for your kind attention.

Submitted by and for further information:

Papuan Institute for Human Rights Advocacy and Research (ELSHAM Papua)

Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Department of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (KPKC-KINGMI Papua)

West Papua National Committee (KNPB)

Office for Justice and Peace of Archdiocese of Merauke (SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke)

Institute of Research, Analyzing and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari)


This Urgent Appeal was co-signed by:

International Coalition on West Papua (ICP)
Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN)
JPIC OFM Indonesia
Vivat Indonesia-Timor Leste
Vivat International Geneva
Franciscans International (FI)
Geneva for Human Rights (GHR)



1. The Urgent Appeal was co-signed by Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN), VIVAT International-Indonesia, Geneva For Human Rights (GHR) – Global Training, Jubi Association, Sekretariat Keadilan, Perdamaian dan Keutuhan Ciptaan Fransiskan Papua (SKPKC Papua), Aliansi Demokrasi Untuk Papua (ALDP), Jaringan Kerja Rakyat Papua (JERAT Papua), Jaringan HAM Perempuan Papua (TIKI), Papua Customary Council (DAP), Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (HRWG – Indonesia).

2. In the following text the term West Papua refers to the Indonesian provinces Papua and Papua Barat.

3. This Urgent Appeal is cosigned by International Coalition for Papua (ICP), West Papua Netzwerk (WPN), Vivat Indonesia-Timor Leste, Vivat International Geneva, JPIC OFM Indonesia, Franciscans International (FI), Geneva for Human Rights (GHR).

4. Legal Aid Institute Jakarta LBH (03.05.2016): REPORT ON THE UNLAWFUL ARRESTS OF 1,783 WESTPAPUANS BETWEEN 25 APRIL-2 MAY 2016