Papuan students in Makassar attacked during peaceful protest against prolongation of Papuan Special Autonomy

Papuan students and members of the ‘Solidarity Forum Caring for the Papuan People’ (FSP-RP) organised a peaceful demonstration in the city of Makassar, South Sulawesi Province. The students were protesting against the government's plan to prolong the special autonomy status for the provinces Papua and Papua Barat, which is supposed to come to an end in 2021. Members of nationalist mass organisations (ORMAS) allegedly assaulted protesters with stones and helmets. Five protesters were reportedly injured as the Ormas members attacked them with helmets and bare hands while others were throwing stones at the crowd. Multiple police officers witnessed the attacks but failed to protect the peaceful assembly and take action against the attackers.

The Papuan students had registered the peaceful demonstration in advance with the local police as required under Indonesian law. On 24 September 2020, three members of the police intelligence came to the Papuan student dormitory in Makassar, asking the students to cancel the demonstration due to the security concerns and in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. According to the dormitory residents, both sides finally agreed that all protesters will follow the COVID-19 health protocol during the demonstration.

On 25 September 2020, around 7.15 am, the protesters gathered at the student dormitory. As the students attempted to exit the dormitory, ORMAS members and police officers prevented them from leaving. However, shortly after, the crowd succeeded in pushing their way out through the dormitory gate. At 9.45 am, the ORMAS members started to throw stones and attacked the protesters with bare hands and motorcycle helmets. Macho Pahabol (see intro image, source: Suara Papua), Boas Payage, Antonius Boma, Petrus Badi and Aplahesa Kaningga sustained injuries during the attack (see table below). The situation forced the students to return to the dormitory and seek shelter.

Around 10.30 am, the situation at the dormitory had calmed down, and the students made orations inside the dormitory yard. They rejected any unilateral government decision regarding West Papua’s special autonomy status without prior consultation of the Papuan people and expressed their support for a petition by the Free West Papua Campaign, which was signed by 1,8 million Papuans demanding a referendum under international supervision. In January 2019, the petition was handed over to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.    

Table with injured protesters during peaceful protest in Makassar



Injuries sustained during attack


Macho Pahabol

Bleeding injury on the right temple after being hit with a helmet


Boas Payage

Bruises on the right hand after being hit with a helmet


Antonius Boma

Bruises on the right hand when he tried to protect himself from punches


Petrus Badi

Bruises on the neck as a result of a punch


Alahesa Kaningga

Bruises and a swelling on the right hand after being hit by a stone which was thrown at him