The Papua Peoples Petition (PRP) has been calling for Papua-wide demonstrations and once again, on 14 July 2022 hundreds of Papuans went to the streets to voice their rejection of the planned formation of new provinces in West Papua. Peaceful protests were held in Manokwari, Sorong and Kaimana in the Papua Barat Province, as well as in Jayapura, Timika and Nabire. Police forces blocked protesters and dispersed the crowd in various cities across West Papua. The local police in Jayapura City, Papua Province, and the town of Kaimana, Papua Barat Province, dispersed protesters with wooden batons. At least six protesters were injured, dozens were arrested and temporarily detained.
Prior to the demonstrations, the police chiefs in Manokwari Jayapura and Kaimana declared that they will not allow a mass demonstration, claiming that the protest would jeopardize public order. According to the Jayapura police chief, the PRP was not eligible to register a demonstration because the organisation is not subscribed to the Agency for National and Political Unity (Kesbangpol). In Kaimana, the police chief refused to issue an acknowledgement letter in response to the PRP registration letter which allegedly did not meet the formal requirements.
Similar demonstrations took also place in early March, mid-March 2022, early April 2022, mid-April, 10 May and 3 June 2022. The first peaceful protests in March 2022 took place right after the Indonesian house of representatives passed a draft law for the formation of the new provinces Anim Ha (Papua Selatan Province), Meepago (Papua Tengah Province) and Lapago (Pegunungan Tengah Province). On 7 July 2022, the Indonesian parliament agreed on a further draft law on the formation of the Papua Barat Daya Province, which shall be established in the very west of the current Papua Barat Province.
Protest dispersed in Jayapura
The PRP submitted a formal registration letter for a peaceful protest march from Ekspo Waena to the provincial parliament on 11 July 2021. The following day, Jayapura Police Chief Mackbon publicly declared that he will not allow the protest march but would facilitate a group of PRP representatives to meet with parliament members. The PRP supporters rejected this proposal, insisting the police respect and protect the freedom of peaceful assembly and their rights as Indonesian citizens.
According to media sources, the Jayapura police chief mobilized 2,000 police officers to prevent the protest. Police officers and crowd control vehicles too were positioned in strategic locations across Jayapura City (see photos below) since 6.00 am.
Dozens of police officers dispersed a group of about 30 students at the entrance gate to the Cenderawasih University campus in Waena, Jayapura. A video of the crowd control operation (see video below) shows police officers wearing helmets and heavy gear beating the protesters with wooden batons. They pushed back the protesters into the university campus after they insisted on walking towards the parliament building in Jayapura. Four protesters were injured (see table below) as a result of police violence.
A group of PRP supporters succeeded to meet with local lawmakers in front of the Papuan provincial parliament in Jayapura City (see photos below).
|1||Wilinus Walianggen||22 years, sustained a head injury as police officers beat him with a wooden baton|
|2||Habel Rufus Fauwok||sustained bruises on the hip and the right hand as police officers beat him with a wooden baton|
|3||Ebenius Tabuni||20 years, sustained bruises on the right shoulder and the right hand as police officers beat him with a wooden baton|
|4||Nias Asso||20 years, sustained bruises on the shoulder as police officers beat him with a wooden baton|
Protest dispersed in Kaimana
Following the PRP’s call for public protests against the formation of new provinces in West Papua, the PRP branch in Kaimana organised a peaceful demonstration on 14 July 2022. The PRP submitted a formal registration letter for a peaceful protest march through Kaimana on 4 July 2022. In a response letter dating 12 July, the police claimed that the registration letter did not meet the formal criteria for registering a demonstration and refused to issue an acknowledgement letter for the registration.
A crowd of several hundred protesters gathered in various locations across Kaimana on 14 July 2022. Police officers blocked the roads to the local parliament. The local police chief, I Ketut Widiarta, called upon the crowd to enter police trucks which would bring them to the local parliament. However, the protesters rejected this proposal. Protest coordinators were able to convince the crowd to enter trucks organised by the PRP, while the other protesters followed on motorcycles.
According to information received, police officers beat two protesters with wooden batons. The police dragged them off the bike and forced them to enter one of the trucks. One of the victims, Mr Aser Bary, was reportedly beaten with a wooden baton and sustained bruises on his chest and back as a result of the excessive force applied against him (see photos below).
The spokesperson of the Papua Barat Regional Police (Polda Papua Barat), Officer Adam Erwindi, denied allegations of protesters being beaten during the demonstration in Kaimana.