Police cracks down on peaceful West Papua demonstrations in Bali and Malang

Police forces again cracked down on two peaceful demonstrations in cities of Denpasar, Bali Province and Malang, Java Tengah Province. According to the Papuan news outlet Tabloid Jubi, the demonstrations were organised the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian Peoples’ Front for West Papua (FRI-WP). The demonstration was held as a protest activity to the Indonesian elections on 17.04.2019. In Malang the protestors also demanded the closure of PT Freeport Indonesia’s Grasberg mine and the right for political self-determination of the Papuan people. The demonstration in Bali took place on 11 April 2019. The AMP and the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI LBH) claim that police officers ill-treated seven protesters during the violent dispersal of the peaceful rally (see images on top and below).

IMG-20190416-WA0005In the Javanese city of Malang, a similar demonstration on 7 April was jointly dispersed by the local police and members of various nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS). ORMAS members punched and kicked the demonstrators. AMP members stated that the counter demonstrators even spilled hot coffee mixed with chili on the Pro-Papua activists, while police officers failed to protect the demonstrators from the violent reprisals. Ten out of 28 demonstrators reportedly sustained bruises during the beatings.

The AMP, FRI-WP published a press release in which they condemned the crackdowns and police negligence, demanding the constitutional and human rights guaranteeing the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in public. According to the press release, the AMP had registered the demonstrations at the local police stations as it is required under Indonesian law. However, the Local police in Malang and Denpasar used the lack of a “police acknowledgement letter” (“Surat Tanda Terima Pemberitahuan” STTP) as reason to declare demonstrations illegal. The police did not issue the STTP, claiming that the demonstration would raise tensions during the hot period of the national elections. The head of the police intelligence unit, Officer Budi Winarto, explained in a statement letter that the police could not guarantee for the safety of the demonstrators because rally promotes ‘separatist ideas’.