After mobilising people to protest on 10 and 11 May, the Papuan People’s Petition (PRP) again called upon people in all major cities across West Papua to participate in peaceful protests against the formation of new autonomy regions in West Papua. The protesters also demanded the release of human rights defender and activist, Mr Victor Yeimo, the withdrawal of troops from West Papua and the right to self-determination through a referendum.
On 3 June 2022, thousands of indigenous Papuans and solidarity groups went to the streets and voice their opposition to Jakarta’s planned administrative partitions. Local observers estimated that the total number of protesters reached 23,000 protesters. All demonstrations were held peacefully in the Papuan towns Jayapura, Sorong, Nabire, Merauke, Timika, Dekai (Yahukimo Regency) and the regencies Dogiyai and Paniai. In some places, protesters began throwing stones after police officers dispersed the crowd.
Local police forces in Sorong and Jayapura used rubber ammunition, teargas, stun guns and wooden batons to disperse the protesters. According to information received from local human rights defenders, at least 27 protesters were injured as security forces dispersed the demonstrations in Jayapura, Sorong and Timika. At least 40 protesters were arrested and detained. All were released within 24 hours. The Australian news outlet SBS broadcasted video footage of the crowd control operations in the news on 3 June 2022, saying that dozens of protesters were ill-treated and arrested.
Similar demonstrations took also place in early March, mid-March 2022, early April 2022, mid-April and 10 May 2022. The first peaceful protests were reported in March 2022 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).
Jayapura and Sentani
The Jayapura police blocked protesters and dispersed the crowd of approximately 3,600 protesters in the town of Sentani, at Ekspo Waena, Perumnas II Waena and the Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) Campus in Abepura (see videos below). According to the Indonesian media outlet ‘Antara’, the police had mobilised 2,000 security force personnel prior to the protest. They closely monitored all meeting points in Sentani and Jayapura since 7.00 am and pushed protesters back. Many protesters retreated to private properties such as dormitories, the university campus and the Walter Pos theological college in Sentani to avoid arrest and further escalation.
One day before the protest, the Jayapura police chief, Mr AKBP Victor D Mackbon, announced that his men would only facilitate a smaller group of protesters to meet with parliament members but would immediately disperse the crowd if all protesters want to walk to the provincial parliament in Jayapura. The PRP had registered a long march from Sentani to the parliament building in Jayapura with the police as required under Indonesian law.
According to local human rights defenders, eleven protesters in Sentani and Ekspo Waena were injured (see table below) as the security forces dispersed the protesters with teargas, grenades, water cannons, stun guns and wooden batons. Two protesters named Mr Mikelda Tekege and Mr Amiron Edowai were arbitrarily arrested near the Uncen campus and temporarily detained. Mr Mackbon declared in an interview with the media outlet CNN Indonesia that the police acted in accordance with the procedures. He denied that protesters had been injured during the crowd control operations and claimed that photos of injured protesters (see photos below) were hoax.
|2||Mikelda Tekege||23 years old, was arrested and temporarily detained by the Jayapura police|
|5||David Goo||24 years, sustained head injury because a police officer beat him with a wooden baton|
|6||Edison Pigai||23 years, sustained bleeding head injury on the temple|
|7||Epi Murib||Sustained bruises on the right knee|
|8||Econ Pigai||21 years|
|9||Melki Tebai||Sustained injury on the toes|
|12||Egenius Tebai||Sustained bruised knee|
|13||Weti Tabuni||Sustained head injury|
|14||Gandi Wanena||Sustained bruised knee|
|15||Nontenus Kogoya||Sustained head injury|
The demonstration in Sorong was attended by approximately 250 persons and forcefully dispersed by the police. Around 2.30 pm, the protesters gathered at the local parliament making orations and demanded in vain to meet the local parliament chairman. At 3.15 pm, the situation became tense after the chairman did not meet with the crowd. Some protesters reacted by burning tires in the surrounding area.
Thereupon, Police officers shot teargas grenades and rubber bullets from close range into the crowd (see video below). At least ten protesters sustained injuries as a result of excessive force used during the crowd control operation (see table below). No protesters were arrested. Officers reportedly snatched a Morning Star Flag from the protesters which indigenous Papuans consider a symbol of cultural identity.
|1||Aves Susim||25 years||Rubber bullet injury in the thigh|
|2||Sriyanti Wanane||30 years||Bruises on the knee and thumb|
|3||Rita Tenau||50 years||Bleeding injury on the right temple|
|4||Beti Kosamah||22 years||Bruised hand|
|5||Agus Edoway||25 years||Abrasions on the right shoulder|
|6||Agustinus Kamat||27 years||Hit by rubber bullet in the thigh|
|7||Subi Taplo||27 years||Hit by rubber bullet on the shoulder|
|8||Amanda Yumte||23 years||Abrasions on the calf and hand|
|9||Nipson Asmuruf||19 years||Bruises on the temple|
|10||Sonny Korain||22 years||Bruised knee and calf|
In the town of Timika, Mimika Regency, police officers reportedly blocked the crowd at SP3 and arrested two protesters named Mr Jakson Wenda and Mr Anas Oktovianus H Rumaropen. Both were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment during the arrest. The exact circumstances of the arrest remain unclear. A small group of protesters was allowed to share their aspirations with parliament representatives.
The protest in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, was the largest among all the demonstrations that took place on 3 June 2022. According to the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Desk (JPIC) of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (Kingmi Papua), about 15,000 people participated in the protests. The large majority of them were indigenous Papuans.
The protesters walked to the Jayawijaya local parliament in Wamena, where the crowd gathered and peacefully shared their aspirations with local lawmakers. The protesters broke a flagpole with the Indonesian flag in front of the parliament building (see video below), but the demonstration remained peaceful. Police officers closely monitored the protest but did neither disperse the crowd nor arrest participants. The police continue to investigate the destruction of the flagpole.
About sixty PRP supporters with banners gathered at the Oyehe Gizi Park in Nabire at 6.00 am and made peaceful orations. Forty minutes later, dozens of police officers arrived at the park and told the protesters to leave, claiming that other groups would need the park for an assembly. At 7.15 am, fully equipped police personnel pushed the protesters back to the Oyehe bus terminal. The officers reportedly intercepted people recording the crowd control operation with their mobile phones and forced them to delete the recordings.
The police officers arrested 23 protesters and forced them to enter a police truck around 8.00 am. They were detained and interrogated at the Nabire District Police Station. Arrested protesters testified that the district police chief threatened to bring them to another place far away from Nabire. All 23 protesters were released at 5.00 pm.
A simultaneous peaceful demonstration was held in the Kalibobo city district. The protesters, mainly students, sought shelter at the Intan Jaya Dormitory as more than a hundred police officers approached the demonstration. The police personnel reportedly tried to open one of the entrance gates and enter the dormitory with force. However, the protesters managed to deescalate the situation. None of the protesters at Kalibobo was arrested.
Dozens of PRP sympathisers, Papuan students and activists associated with the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) gathered at the Kudamati Road near the Mangga Market in the town of Merauke around 9.30 am. They brought banners and were reading aloud 19 points in which the protesters rejected the formation of new provinces and called upon the Indonesian Government to allow a referendum. The orations took 30 minutes before the protesters dispersed voluntarily.
Fifteen minutes later, joint security forces under the command of the Merauke police chief, Mr AKBP Untung Sangaji, arrived at the Mangga Market with police and military trucks, patrol cars and motorbikes. According to information received, police officers searched multiple houses in the area and checked the mobile phones of bystanders to identify the protesters and delete recordings of the demonstration. Subsequently, police personnel searched the houses of KNPB activists and arrested thirteen persons, most of them affiliated with the KNPB. They seized gardening tools and traditional weapons.
|1||Marthinus Pasim||24 years|
|2||Martinus Yumame||32 years|
|3||Kanisius Juliano Ambay||23 years|
|4||Petrus Kutey||29 years|
|5||Charles Sraun||41 years|
|6||Roberts Landa||26 years|
|7||Alfri Yawon||21 years|
|8||Yoseph Novaris Apay||39 years|
|9||Edoardus Kaboy||26 years|
|10||Basilius War||30 years|
|11||Yanuarius Kaize||38 years|
|12||Alfons Winim||31 years|
|13||Oktovianus Erro||27 years|
About 50 PRP and KNPB supporters carried out a silent protest action in Yahukimo’s largest town Dekai. They carried banners with the words “resist” (lawan). Around 8.00 am, the activists read aloud a statement. Plainclothes police officers closely monitored the demonstration but did not interfere with the protest. The police reportedly increased their presence in various parts of Dekai in response to the demonstration.