Police arrest eight students for opening book stall at Cenderawasih University Campus, Jayapura

On 1 September 2022, members of the Jayapura Municipality police arrested the Papuan student activists Vara Iyaba, Agust Helembo, Maikel Funangi, Melki Elopere, Katrin Mabel, Erwin Lokobal, Boy Iyaba, and Ida Helakombo inside the Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) Campus in Jayapura, Papua Province. The arrested students are members of the Papuan student organisation GempaR. The activists organised and took part in a book stall in front of the UNCEN Museum (see photo below). The books were made available to students and the public. GempaR organised the activity because the UNCEN library is not sufficiently equipped.

GempaR reding stall at the UNCEN Campus , Jayapura (source: GempaR)

Police officers using one police truck and three police motorcycles arrived at the UNCEN museum at 7:00 am, hours before the GempaR began running its activity at 3:30 pm. Police officers approached the students and asked them to show their permission for the book stall. The police officers arrested the eight activists and dragged them to the police truck. Police officers brought the students to the Jayapura Municipality Police Station, where they interrogated them. Lawyers were able to provide legal support to the activists during police detention. All were released at 10:30 pm (see photo on top, source WPCC). The police seized four books, claiming that the books contained separatist content.

Background

According to GempaR, the UNCEN Directorate has established close cooperation with the police and the military, allowing security forces to enter the university campus. Security force members have prevented various student protests against forming new provinces in West Papua inside the UNCEN campus. The students understand the presence of security force members at the university as intimidation and an attempt to stifle academic freedom on campus. The head of the UNCEN museum had allegedly called the police to prevent the activist as the students had not asked their permission for the activity.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Cenderawasih University (-2.580564690014341, 140.64687666782393)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Province, Jayapura city
total number of victims: eight
period of incident: 01.09.2022
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, indigenous peoples, arbitrary detention
Sources:
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Vara Iyaba, studentmaleunknown indigenous, activistarbitrary detention, freedom of expression
1Agus Helembo, studentfemaleunknown indigenous, activistarbitrary detention, freedom of expression
1Maikel Funangi, studentmaleunknown indigenous, activistarbitrary detention, freedom of expression
1Melki Elopere, studentmaleunknown indigenous, activistarbitrary detention, freedom of expression
1Katrin Mabel, studentfemaleunknown indigenous, activistarbitrary detention, freedom of expression
1Ida Helakombo, studentfemaleunknownindigenous, activist
1Erwin Lokobal, student maleunknownindigenous, activist
1Boy Iyaba, student maleunknownindigenous, activist