Celebration of International Human Rights Day in Nabire accompanied by arrests – Papuan Catholic Priests call for dialogue and reconciliation

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The 10th December marks the International Human Rights Day – Human rights defenders across the world use the day to organise demonstrations and other peaceful activities to draw public attention on human rights grievances. In the Papuan town of Nabire, multiple commemorations were forcefully dispersed by police officers (see photo on the left, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua). A group of 147 Papuan Catholic priests working across West Papua have used the International Human Rights Day to publish a moral call for justice and truth in West Papua. The priests emphasized their support for a dialogue and reconciliation to settle the conflict in West Papua, which has shattered the region for over 50 years.


The priests also understood the appeal as a follow-up on a meeting between West Papuan Catholic leaders and the Coordinating Minsters for Political, Law and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD. The moral call contains ten appeals to multiple stakeholders of the West Papua conflict. They urged Indonesian security forces and the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) to cease-fire and open up the possibility for a dialogue, as a dignified solution to the conflict in West Papua. The Catholic leaders asked President Jokowi to withdraw all non-organic troops from West Papua immediately. They called upon lawmakers to develop migration policies, which reduce spontaneous migration to West Papua. The policies should minimize social frictions and reduce horizontal conflicts between indigenous Papuans and Non-Papuans which have grown in the region over the past decade.


In the Papuan Town of Nabire, human rights activists and sympathisers gathered in multiple locations to commemorate the International Human Rights Day. At least 16 protesters were arrested without warrant.  They were detained at the Nabire District police headquarters for one hour and subsequently released. The police allowed a smaller group of protesters to make orations in front of a local Government office in the Kalibobo area.

The organising committee informed the police about the commemorations on 8 December 2020 but did not receive an acknowledgement letter from the police. The following day, the local police prohibited the peaceful protest. Nabire police representatives declared that the protest violates the COVID-19 health protocol and poses a potential security threat during the time of local elections.  

The police arrested the following protesters:
1. Kristianus Mote
2. Martinus Goo
3. Agusten Goo
4. Mesak Keiya
5. Beti Goo
6. Seli Bobii
7. Samuel Bobii
8. Roni Goo
10. Darius Goo
11 Rias Dogomo
12. Berna Agapa
13. Yuli Obaipa
14. Geo Mote
15. Melan Mote
16. Emeliana Douw