Security forces again disperse protests against new autonomy regions, minor injured in Nabire

Joint security forces dispersed further protests against the division of the Provinces Papua and Papua Barat into new autonomy regions. The protests in the Papuan towns Nabire and Jayapura were forcefully dispersed. A protester in Nabire was injured by a bullet while other protesters were reportedly subjected to police torture. Another large protest in the town of Tiom, Lanny Jaya Regency, was allowed to proceed under close observation by security force members. The series of protests against the government’s plan to push the formation of new provinces in West Papua already began in early March and mid-March 2022.

Ignoring the mass protests in most larger towns across West Papua, the Indonesian parliament adopted a new draft law (Bhs Indonesia: Rancangan Undang-Undang, RUU) on the formation of the new provinces Anim Ha (Papua Selatan Province), Meepago (Papua Tengah Province) and Lapago (Pegunungan Tengah Province) on 6 April 2022. Jakarta has planned to establish additional provinces in West Papua. On 27 January 2022, the Indonesian parliament held a first discussion about the administrative partitions. The lawmakers announced that the Papua Barat province shall become the provinces Papua Barat and Papua Barat Daya, while the Papua Province will be split into the new provinces Papua, Papua Tengah (central), Papua Selatan (south) and Papua Pegunungan Tengah (central highlands).

Protest in Nabire Town

A peaceful demonstration in Nabire on 31 March 2022 was forcefully dispersed by the police. Witnesses stated they counted more than two hundred shots as police members dispersed the crowd. A 16-year-old boy named Jun Woge sustained a bullet injury in the left leg (see photo below) and several others were injured during the crowd control operation. At least four protesters were arrested and later released in the evening. According to a lawyer who provided legal support to the four students at the Nabire District Police Station, the arrestees showed physical signs of torture with bruises on their faces and body.

Protesters gathered in multiple locations across the city from where they wanted to walk to the local parliament to voice their aspirations. A video of the crowd control operation taken at the Karang Tumaritis Market in Nabire reveals how a police officer deliberately attacks a protester to cause an escalation of the protest (watch video below). Another officer kicks a protester who tries to help. Thereupon, protesters begin throwing stones at the police officers. Such strategies are commonly applied by police personnel in West Papua to trigger escalations which may justify forceful dispersals of peaceful demonstrations on government-critical content.

Police officers reportedly intercepted protesters near the Siriwini General Hospital and seized banners, traditional net bags and accessories with the Morning Star, a symbol of cultural identity in West Papua.

Protest in Tiom, Lanny Jaya Regency

On 28 March 2022, thousands of indigenous Papuans gathered in the town of Tiom to protest against the formation of new provinces in West Papua (see videos below). The protest was closely monitored by security forces but remained peaceful. The protesters were allowed to voice their concerns regarding the administrative partition in West Papua. They argued that the plans would only be beneficial for a small political elite in West Papua and will lead to marginalization and extinction.

Protest in Jayapura City

On 1 April 2022, a peaceful demonstration organised by the Papuan People Petition (Petisi Rakyat Papua, PRP) took place in Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura. Joint security forces attempted to disperse the protest with water cannons in different locations and prevented the crowd from sharing their demands at the provincial parliament DPRP. The protesters finally held orations at the Abepura roundabout (see photo on top) because police blocked the roads to the city centre where the parliament building is located.

This was already the second protest against new autonomy regions in West Papua in Jayapura. The first protest in Jayapura on 8 March 2022 had already been dispersed by the police.

Photos and videos of peaceful protest in Nabire

A video of the crowd control operation taken at the Karang Tumaritis Market, Nabire, on 31 March 2022 reveals how a police officer deliberately attacks a protester to cause an escalation of the protest. Another officer kicks a protester who tries to help.
This video was taken shortly before police officers caused an escalation of the demonstration. The officers block the road, so protesters sit down and listen to orations.
16-year-old boy, Jun Woge, sustained a bullet injury in the left leg as police officers dispersed the crowd with firearms

Videos of peaceful protest in Tiom, Lanny Jaya

Peaceful protest against the formation of new autonomy regions in West Papua in Tiom, Lanny Jaya
Protesters listened to orations in front of the local parliament in Lanny Jaya.
Protesters listened to orations in front of the local parliament in Lanny Jaya.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location:
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Province, Nabire Regency, Nabire town
total number of victims: five
period of incident: 31.03.2022
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: freedom of expression, torture, ill-treatment, freedom of peaceful assembly, indigenous peoples
Sources:
Further HRM News: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/case/police-officers-ill-treat-protesters-during-peaceful-demonstration-against-new-autonomy-regions-in-west-papua/ https://humanrightsmonitor.org/news/police-crack-down-on-protests-against-new-autonomy-regions-in-west-papua-two-protesters-shot-dead-14-injured-103-arrested/

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Jun Wogemale16activist, indigenoustorture, ill-treatment, freedom of expression
4unknownunknownunknownactivist, indigenousarbitrary arrest, torture, ill-treatment, freedom of expression