Police officers arrest four students during peaceful assembly in support of Balikpapan 7

On 15 June 2020, police officers arbitrarily arrested four students at the Jayapura University for Science and Technology (USTJ) during a peaceful open stage event in support of the seven political detainees in Balikpapan. One of the detainees, Alexander Gobay, is the incumbent USTJ student president – he was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment on 17 June 2020. The USTJ students had already set up a racism-protest post and the open stage on 13 June 2020 to make peaceful orations and express their aspirations for the release of the Balikpapan 7.

Around 7.30 am, members of the Jayapura municipality police (Polresta Jayapura) came to the USTJ campus and arbitrarily arrested Marthen Pakage, Semi Gobay, Albert Yatipai and Ones Yalak. The four students are board members of the USTJ executive student body. Albert Yatipai stated that a police officer allegedly ill-treated him during the arrest. The police released the four students on the same day after signing a statement letter in which they had to promise that they won’t organise any events outside the university curriculum or commit any violation of health policies for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic, again (see intro image).

Human rights defenders condemned the arrest. They argue that the arrest constitutes a violation of the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as guaranteed under international human rights treaties and Law No 9/1998 about freedom of expression in public.