Police prevent commemorations of Human Rights Day in West Papua – 110 protesters arrested, 14 ill-treated

The 10 December marks the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Today, people use the day to go to the streets and engage in peaceful action for human rights. While people in most areas across Indonesia participated in peaceful protests and public events for human rights, joint police and military forces prevented and dispersed peaceful demonstrations in West Papua. Mass arrests and ill-treatments against protesters accompanied the 2022 commemorations in Jayapura, Sentani, and Wamena. The police contained protesters in assembly points or arrested organisers in the early morning before other protesters began gathering.

Civil resistance movements, human rights organisations, and churches in West Papua encouraged the people to join the peaceful commemorations. Commemorations took place in the towns of Wamena, Jayapura, Sentani, Nabire, Enarotali, Sorong, Manokwari, and Timika, as well as the regencies Lanny Jaya, Pegunungan Bintang, Tolikara and Kepulauan Yapen. The protesters in the Papuan towns Wamena, Sentani, and Jayapura were subjected to arrests, ill-treatments, and harassment, even though the protests remained peaceful and were registered following Indonesian law. Police officers in Sorong dispersed the peaceful protest but refrained from arbitrary arrests. Five protesters in Sentani and nine in Jayapura sustained injuries due to police violence during the commemorations.

Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency

The police in Wamena tried to prevent a demonstration commemorating Human Rights Day already in the planning stage. On 8 December 2022, police officers in multiple locations arrested 23 members (see table below) of the West Papua National Coalition (KNPB), a movement organisation promoting the right to self-determination through peaceful action. They were distributing leaflets for the commemoration of Human Rights Day. The activists were shortly detained and interrogated at the Jayawijaya District Police Station.

On 10 December 2022, police officers again arrested 30 KNPB activists in three locations, namely in Pikhe, Sinakma, and Potikelek, Wamena town (see table below). The police arrested the activists around 8.00 am as they were preparing banners at the assembly points.

Sentani, Jayapura Regency

Dozens of police officers blocked protesters at the Pos 7 intersection and perverted them from walking along the main road to Jayapura City. KNPB activists tried negotiating with the police to continue their way to Jayapura. At 7.50 am, the police dispersed the crowd and reportedly arrested 52 protesters. Human rights observers managed to document the names of only 42. Five protesters, namely Mrs Agustina Kobak, Mr Zeth Matuan, Mr Insu Siep, Mr Nodi Tepmul and Mr Frengky Kogoya, sustained injuries due to excessive police violence (see photos below, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua & independent HRDs). All protesters were loaded in trucks and brought to the Jayapura district police station in Doyo Baru for interrogation.

Jayapura City

Protesters in Jayapura assembled in multiple locations, namely at the Abepura roundabout, Jayapura University for Science and Technology (USTJ), Expo Waena, and the Cenderawasih University campuses in Abepura and Waena. The police reportedly dispersed the protests with teargas, water cannons, and warning shots. The arrests occurred early in the morning as the activists prepared for the peaceful protest. Dozens of police officers blocked university campuses at UNCEN and USTJ, preventing the protesters from walking to the main road.

Nine protesters, namely, Mr Enggel Ap You, Nando Boma, Okto Mote, Yoten Mirin, Hendrik Muyapa, Yabet Degei, Olison Package, and X Dogomo sustained injuries as a result of police violence as officers dispersed the crowd (see photos below, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua & independent HRDs).

Table of arrestees in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency

Table of arrestees in Sentani, Jayapura Regency

Table of arrestees in Jayapura City

Protesters in Sentani and Jayapura injured due to police violence

Human Rights Day in West Papua

Case data: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/case/sentani-jayapura-regency-52-protestors-arrested-and-5-ill-treated-during-human-rights-day-commemorations/, https://humanrightsmonitor.org/case/wamena-jayawijaya-23-knpb-members-arrested-while-promoting-human-rights-day-commemorations/, Jayapura city – five protestors arrested and nine ill-treated during human rights day commemorations – (humanrightsmonitor.org), and https://humanrightsmonitor.org/case/wamena-jayawijaya-30-arrested-while-organising-human-rights-days-commemorations/