Police officers ill-treat protesters in Jayapura during a peaceful demonstration against new autonomy regions in West Papua

Police officers forcefully dispersed a peaceful protest by students of the Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) in Jayapura on 8 March 2022 (see photo above). The students organised the demonstration to voice their aspirations against Jakarta’s plan to establish four additional provinces in West Papua. After revising the Special Autonomy Law in 2021, the parliament would pass the laws for the formation of the new autonomy provinces in 2022, while the administrative implementation of these would take place in 2023. The students also demanded the withdrawal of non-organic military personnel from West Papua. Other demonstrations and protest activities against the administrative partition of West Papua were reported from the Papuan towns Manokwari and Nabire.

According to information received from Jayapura student groups, at least 14 students were ill-treated (see table below) as police officers dispersed the crowd. Ten protesters were arrested (see table below) on their way home near the Ekspo Waena bus terminal and subsequently detained at the Abepura sub-district police station. The police appeared to particularly target protesters originating from the highlands. Indonesian authorities often stigmatize indigenous Papuans, particularly those originating from the highlands, as “rebellious trouble makers” and separatists.

Following the submission of a notification letter for the registration of the demonstration, the Jayapura police forces increased their presence near the UNCEN campus on 7 March 2022. The police presence again intensified on 8 March. The students understood the police mobilisation as an act of intimidation.

On 8 March, protesters gathered around 5.00 am at the UNCEN campus and Ekspo in Waena, Jayapura to start marching on the streets. The final destination of the demonstration was the Provincial Parliament (DPRP). Police officers intercepted the crowd in front of the Taruna Bakti Catholic School in Waena. The students sat down and listened to orations. Police officers pushed back the crowd with rubber batons and tear gas grenades (see videos below). The protesters dispersed around 12.30 after sharing their aspirations with provincial parliament member, Mr John NR Gobai, in front of the UNCEN campus entrance gate.

Video material recorded during the protest (see videos below) shows police officers attacking single protesters with kicks and rubber batons in an attempt to escalate the situation. Police officers reportedly ill-treated a group of protesters in front of the UNCEN Technical Faculty.   

Police in West Papua are not professional

The freedom of expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association are protected and guaranteed under the Indonesian constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Indonesia has ratified. However, the Indonesian police continue to restrict these fundamental freedoms in West Papua. The police in West Papua continue to prevent and disperse peaceful demonstrations, particularly if protesters criticise Government policies, voice human rights violations or promote the right to self-determination. Acts of violence against protesters have frequently been reported during such dispersals. International observers and human rights organisations have expressed concerns regarding the professionality of the Indonesian police, particularly in West Papua, where human rights violations frequently occur during law enforcement operations.

The lack of professionalism is reflected in a public statement by the head of the Jayapura Municipality Police, Mr Gustav R. Urbinas, on 6 March 2022. Papuan students had submitted a notification letter about their plan to organise a peaceful protest against new autonomy regions in West Papua two days prior to the action. In his statement, Urbinas warned the students that “the police will take firm action against students and other citizens carrying out protests without receiving permission from the police”.

Indonesian, as well as international law, stipulates that the police have the task to facilitate, protect and respect the freedom of expression and the freedom to peaceful assembly and association. Indonesian law requires demonstrators to inform the police beforehand but does not require a permit from the police. Following the dispersal, Urbinas declared that his men had acted in accordance with legal procedures.

In West Papua, the police usually use the lack of a “police acknowledgement letter” (“Surat Tanda Terima Pemberitahuan” STTP) in response to a “notification letter for a demonstration” as a reason to declare demonstrations illegal. Human rights activists documented a large number of cases, in which the police refused to issue an STTP in order to prevent particular Papuan civil society groups from enjoying their right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Both fundamental freedoms can only be restricted if the police intervention is lawful, necessary and proportionate in order to protect national security or public safety, prevent disorder or crime, protect health or morals, or protect the rights and freedoms of other people. Police intervention must be appropriate and no more than necessary to address the issue concerned. 

Tables with protesters ill-treated and arrested

NoNameForm of ill-treatment
1Petrus Tebaibruises on the left side of his ribs after police officers beat him with a rifle butt, He was also hit by rubber bullets and inhaled tear gas
2Alex Tagicuts on the libs after police officers beat him with a rubber baton to the face
3Egianus Tebaybruises on the back after police officers beat him with a rubber baton and kicked him in the back
4Yustinus Goobruises on the hand as a police officer beat him with a rubber baton on the right hand
5Yulianus Goobruises on the hand as a police officer beat him with a rubber baton on the right hand
6Kiri Keromacuts on the libs after police officers punched him in the face
7Wialo W Silakbruises after police officers punched him in the upper body
8Okot Lokobalbruises on the left hand as a police officer beat him with an ammunition box
9Frengki MulaitPolice officers electrocuted him with a stun gun to the right side of the back
10Simon DogaWas hit by a tear gas grenade
11Melkius EloperePolice officer beat him with a rubber baton
12Abet TabuniA Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) vehicle drove over his right foot
13Lewa TabuniPolice officers dragged and pushed him, causing bruises on his elbow and hand
14Yustinus WandikPolice officers forcefully dragged him away from the crowd, snatched his megaphone and intentionally broke the megaphone  
Table with protesters ill-treated during the peaceful protest in Jayapura on 8 March 2022
NoNameRegency of origin
1Saul BomaPaniai Regency
2Martin L PayokwaTolikara Regency
3Mandoen PondayarBiak Regency
4Markus KogoyaLani Jaya Regency
5Piter BunaiPaniai Regency
6Sem AsoJayaijaya Regency
7Demianus MabelJayaijaya Regency
8Feri GomboTolikara Regency
9Martinus PegawakMamberamo Tengah Regency
10Tinus HubyJayaijaya Regency
Table with protesters arrested during the peaceful protest in Jayapura on 8 March 2022

Further Videos showing police aggression against protesters in Jayapura on 8 March 2022

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Teruna Bakti Senior High School (-2.594199681734624, 140.64160568172807)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Province, Jayapura city, Heram district, Waena
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 08.03.2022
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: freedom of opinion and expression, torture, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, indigenous peoples, arbitrary detention Sources:
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
1Petrus Tebaimaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Alex Tagimaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Egianus Tebaymaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Yustinus Goomaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Yulianus Goomaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Kiri Keromamaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Wialo W Silakmaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Okot Lokobalmaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Frengki Mulaitmaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Simon Dogamaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Melkius Eloperemaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Abet Tibunimaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Lewa Tibunimaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Yustinus Wandikmaleunknownactivists, indigenoustorture
1Saul Bomamaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Martin L Payokwamaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Mandoen Pondayarmaleunknowactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Markus Kogoyamaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Piter Bunaimaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Sem Asomaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Demianus Mabelmaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Feri Gombomaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Martinus Pehawakmaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention
1Tinus Hubymaleunknownactivists, indigenousarbitrary detention