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
|No||Name||Form of ill-treatment|
|1||Petrus Tebai||bruises 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|
|2||Alex Tagi||cuts on the libs after police officers beat him with a rubber baton to the face|
|3||Egianus Tebay||bruises on the back after police officers beat him with a rubber baton and kicked him in the back|
|4||Yustinus Goo||bruises on the hand as a police officer beat him with a rubber baton on the right hand|
|5||Yulianus Goo||bruises on the hand as a police officer beat him with a rubber baton on the right hand|
|6||Kiri Keroma||cuts on the libs after police officers punched him in the face|
|7||Wialo W Silak||bruises after police officers punched him in the upper body|
|8||Okot Lokobal||bruises on the left hand as a police officer beat him with an ammunition box|
|9||Frengki Mulait||Police officers electrocuted him with a stun gun to the right side of the back|
|10||Simon Doga||Was hit by a tear gas grenade|
|11||Melkius Elopere||Police officer beat him with a rubber baton|
|12||Abet Tabuni||A Mobile Police Brigade (Brimob) vehicle drove over his right foot|
|13||Lewa Tabuni||Police officers dragged and pushed him, causing bruises on his elbow and hand|
|14||Yustinus Wandik||Police officers forcefully dragged him away from the crowd, snatched his megaphone and intentionally broke the megaphone|
|No||Name||Regency of origin|
|1||Saul Boma||Paniai Regency|
|2||Martin L Payokwa||Tolikara Regency|
|3||Mandoen Pondayar||Biak Regency|
|4||Markus Kogoya||Lani Jaya Regency|
|5||Piter Bunai||Paniai Regency|
|6||Sem Aso||Jayaijaya Regency|
|7||Demianus Mabel||Jayaijaya Regency|
|8||Feri Gombo||Tolikara Regency|
|9||Martinus Pegawak||Mamberamo Tengah Regency|
|10||Tinus Huby||Jayaijaya Regency|
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 details: unknown
Issues: freedom of opinion and expression, torture, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, indigenous peoples, arbitrary detention Sources:
Further HRM News:
|Number||Name, Details||Gender||Age||Group Affiliation||Violation|
|1||Petrus Tebai||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Alex Tagi||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Egianus Tebay||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Yustinus Goo||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Yulianus Goo||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Kiri Keroma||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Wialo W Silak||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Okot Lokobal||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Frengki Mulait||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Simon Doga||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Melkius Elopere||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Abet Tibuni||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Lewa Tibuni||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Yustinus Wandik||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||torture|
|1||Saul Boma||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Martin L Payokwa||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Mandoen Pondayar||male||unknow||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Markus Kogoya||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Piter Bunai||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Sem Aso||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Demianus Mabel||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Feri Gombo||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Martinus Pehawak||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|
|1||Tinus Huby||male||unknown||activists, indigenous||arbitrary detention|