Nine KNPB activists unlawfully arrested in Merauke – one activist subjected to physical ill-treatment

Three members of the Indonesian special forces (KOPASSUS) intercepted nine activists of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and a five-year-old girl on 24 February 2019 around at 4.30 pm in Kelapa Lima, an area in the Papuan town of Merauke. The soldiers started to argue with the KNPB members because they wore shirts with emblems of the morning start flag – a symbol of Papuan cultural identity which is also used by the separatist movement. Subsequently, the special force members called a police patrol car, which upon the police officers arrested the nine KNPB members and 5-year-old Martina Yawon. The security forces brought the activists to the Merauke District Police station.

At the police station, the officers forced the nine men to take off the shirts with morning star symbols. The shirts were seized and not being returned to the KNPB activists. Yukianus Tanden was allegedly subjected to physical ill-treatment in a backroom at the police station. A special force member allegedly held Yukianus by the throat and slapped him on the cheek. A KOPASSUS officer threatened to go after the activists if the arrest and ill-treatments would be exposed on social media. All  KNPB  members were released at 8.30 pm.  Martina Yawon was allowed to leave the police station earlier. She was brought back to her parent’s house. The testimonies of three KNPB members can be viewed on YouTube.


Table with names of arrestees





David Mukri

16 years


Oktavianus Yawun

24 years


Robert Landa

21 years


Marius Kateng

33 years


Kosmas Minipok

23 years


Yukianus L Tanden

21 years


Rifaldo Karombi

16 years


Kristian Aggunop

22 years


Felix Alim

23 years


Martina Yawon

5 years