Jayapura – Papua People’s Democratic Movement (Gerakan Rakyat Demokratik Papua or GARDA Papua) failed to deliver their aspiration statement at the Papuan House of Representatives Office, on the demonstration held on Monday (September 3, 2018). The police had arrested 14 demonstrators. They were arrested at several gathering points and released again after being interrogated. These demonstrators then proceed to read out their statement at Expo Waena.
After being detained for approximately seven hours, the detained were eventually sent home at 14:25 Papua time (GMT+5).
Yalmi said that the arrests were carried out by the authorities during the oration and a long march from the Expo, Waena to Abepura. Yalmi said that 14 people had been detained at Abe District Police Station then taken to Jayapura City Police.
A lawyer from the Papua Human Rights Advocates Association (Perkumpulan Advokat Hak Asasi Manusia or PAHAM), Yohanis Mambrasar said that the arrested were Kanibal Lokbere, Geri Kabak, Yali Wamo, Maria Beanal (MAI), Tresya Magai (Mai), Freedom Isataplo, Angkrek Bagaobau, Jhon Ciko, Zet En, Wille G., Riko Kobogau, Lanine Lani, Ferry Bokogau, and Memo Hagisimijau. Meanwhile, Jayapura Police Chief, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Gustav Urbinas said that currently no one is arrested. “They have been sent home,” he said.
This arrest might be an attempt to counter separatist groups activities that seek to garner domestic and international support in separating West Papua from Indonesia.
But, Yohanis Mambrasar emphasized that the arrested at the Papuan House of Representative Office demonstration was part of the participants of the GARDA Papua peace rally, not the mob that raided Rusunawa (Rumah Susun Sederhana Sewa or rented flats) of Cendrawasih University (Uncen). “They are purely from GARDA Papua,” he said.
Continuing the delivery of their aspirations, the Papua People’s Democratic Movement (GARDA Papua) then held a discussion at the Abepura Tauboria Dormitory hall in Jayapura on Tuesday (August 28, 2018).
Jalmy Waro, the Leader of GARDA Papua, said the discussion focused on carrying three central issues, namely the pressure to close PT Freeport, the demilitarization of West Papua and the development of the mama-mama market (literally means all mothers’ or wives’ market) in all of Papua.
Demonstration & Democracy
Responding to the issue of arrested demonstrators in West Papua and its relation to the freedom of opinion, there are several factors that we need to consider to assess the incident.
First, West Papua is vulnerable to separatist and anarchist organizations that impose the issue of West Papua liberation. The separatist groups cannot be eliminated or abolished by this democratic state without understanding the base of their movement. Therefore, it was natural for the authorities to react over any suspicious activity that might be under the power of these separatists. Prohibition and confrontation are inevitable when there are separatist groups who force their will on the state.
Second, demonstration must have the permission from local security forces so that it can be well coordinated. Demonstrations that are detrimental to the general public such as disrupting public activities, blocking roads, making loud noises, and other disturbing things will cause demonstration dismissal.
Third, demonstration is not only about taking it to the streets. Aspirations can be given through non-violent channels by collaborating with NGOs, legal aid, liberal activists, and other supporters to get media attention and to arrange dialogue with the government.
In the end, the media and other non-governmental institutions will continue to ensure that the community aspirations are heard by the decision makers. However, we should pick the best way, time, and place as the means to deliver aspirations to reach the expected objectives.