Reported by AMP Yogyakarta 18th July 2016
Indonesian police and civilian reactionary groups stormed a boarding house for Papuan students in Yogyakarta on Friday. The State-Owned Papuan Dormotory at Kusumanegara Road, Kamasan I was besieged in the early morning of 15th July when mobile brigades (Brimob) of special forces officers forced their way through the back gate of the dormitory and caused extensive damage to student property. After entering the premises, they destroyed and sabotaged a number of motorcycles while other police surrounded the dormitory and blocked all access to the building. Students were forbidden from entering or moving about the premises, while Red Cross workers and local residents were restricted from providing relief for the students.
This action comes at a time when Papuan students in Yogyakarta had planned to stage a peaceful rally in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) bid to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). The students also demanded West Papuan self-determination to be implemented by the Indonesian government as the best solution for resolving ongoing conflicts in the troubled province, and to demonstrate to the rest of the world a genuine regard for democratic principles.
The rally was organised by Persatuan Rakyat Untuk Pembebasan Papua Barat (People United for Free West Papua PRPPB)
An international spokesperson of the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP), Yely Wenda, witnessed the incident from inside the besieged building. Mr Wenda insisted that hundreds of police and armed civilians had arrived at the boarding house by 7 am and “that we were targeted and treated as though we were terrorists. There was absolutely no logic whatsoever for the Indonesian security forces to act the way they did. It was very embarrassing to see them act stupidly like this”
According to Wenda, police officers were sweeping several access points to the road leading toward Papua dormitory, and blocking and detaining any person entering or leaving the property. As many as fifteen students were arrested simply on account of their desire to enter their own property. One 20-year-old student was detained by the police on the street outside of the dormitory before being brutally tortured. The student, Obi Kogoya, had his jaw forcefully opened by police and militia, and is now in a critical condition at a local hospital.
In addition to the violence being perpetrated by police and militia, civilian groups conducted a demonstration attacking the Papuans’ message of independence. These groups were well-armed and protected by a throng of Indonesian security forces, and displayed a banner that stated their willingness to die in defending their “unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia”.
The President of the Papuan Students’ Association, Aris Yeimo, told BBC Indonesia that 60 to 70 students remain locked inside the building all day and unable to leave the premises. When asked why the dormitory was besieged by the police, Mr Yeimo insisted he had no idea why security forces acted in such an intimidating manner and that these kinds of confrontations are not uncommon. Incidents towards Papuans – such as this one – may occur as often as several times a month, everywhere Papuans live.
Police representatives have a clearer understanding about the justification for these kinds of actions. The Yogyakarta City Police Chief, Kombes Tommy Wibisono, asserts that pacification action such as this need to be carried out when demands for Papuan independence undermines national stability and promotes “social unrest”. However, Aris Yeimo insists that the current action against students has little to do with calls for Papuan independence, but rather because of the perceived threat they pose to the national integrity of the archipelago.
Veronica Koman from the Legal Aid Institute (LBH) in Jakarta has condemned the brutality of the police and demanded that security forces and their civilian paramilitary counterparts must not take the law into their own hands. This assertion applies not only to the current situation in Yogyakarta, but to other parts of the country as well.
Yely Wenda has appealed to Pacific Islands nations for moral support and to put pressure on Indonesia as an associate member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to refrain from utilising these kinds of pressures on local Papuan students.
Further information, please contact:
Papuan student at the Australian National University Canberra-Australia
An International spokesperson of Papuan Student Alliance in Yogyakarta-Indonesia
20-year-old student Obi Kogoya attacked by Indonesian police and militia on 15th July outside the boarding house Yogyakarta.
Hundreds of Indonesian police ready to attack Papuan students boarding house on Friday 15th July 2016