Indonesia releases 42 people arrested at West Papua university
Helen Davidson Sat 7 Apr 2018 12.30 AEST
Authorities say three remain under investigation following the raids at the University of Cenderawasih in Jayapura
West Papuan activists during a rally in Jakarta last month. Separatist groups have long fought for independence from Indonesia. Photograph: Bagus Indahono/EPA
Indonesian authorities have released most of the large group of students and activists arrested on Wednesday at a West Papua university.
At least 44 people were taken into custody at the University of Cenderawasih campus in Jayapura during a raid, which the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) described as an attempt to distract attention from fatal clashes elsewhere in the region.
On Friday, Indonesian authorities said 42 people had been released.
“Three are still under examination,” the spokesman for the Indonesian embassy in Australia, Sade Bimantara, said.
“Two for allegations of being in possession of stolen motorbikes and marijuana. One under investigation for suspicious possession of 159 laptops.”
Gustaf Kawer, who is part of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers for Papua, told Guardian Australia on Wednesday the students and activists had been detained and taken to nearby facilities of the mobile police (Brimob) and then police headquarters in Jayapura.
KNPB said the raids targeted student dormitories and its offices, and were apparently related to unsourced material that suggested there was a pro-independence declaration event scheduled for Thursday.
Bimantara had previously told Guardian Australia the raid was based on “valid information that a number of people were planning to hold an illegal event”.
“Upon conducting a thorough check of the location where the individuals were based, the police found a number of vehicles without the proper papers and suspected stolen electronic devices. The police also found firearm ammunitions.”
Bimantara said the police followed strict protocols to ensure the detainees were treated with respect and had access to legal representation.
The KNPB chairman, Victor Yeimo, said his organisation was not responsible for the unsourced “propaganda” about a proposed event.
He suggested the raid – which he claimed involved Indonesian police, Brimob, military and intelligence agencies – was to shift attention from armed clashes near Timika in which at least two people died.
Reuters quoted an Indonesian military spokesman, who said one Indonesian soldier and two separatists were killed in a shootout near the Grasberg mine.
Bimantara named the soldier as private Vicky Irad Uba Rumpaisum, “shot dead by a criminal separatist group” while on routine patrol.
The West Papua National Liberation Army said a 10-year-old boy and one of their members, and dozens of Indonesian security personnel, were killed in the clash.
Guardian Australia is unable to verify the claims of either side. Journalists and human rights groups are restricted from visiting.
West Papua has been the site of an independence struggle for several decades. Separatist groups have long fought for independence from Indonesia, which they have repeatedly accused of human rights violations including widespread violence, mass arrests, and killings.
ndonesia’s annexure of West Papua was formalised in 1969 by a UN-supervised vote, which has been internationally criticised as an undemocratic process, and there have been allegations of Indonesian threats against those chosen to vote.
Bimantara told Guardian Australia it was incorrect to say the area was annexed by Indonesia.
“The fact is that in 1969 the United Nations reaffirmed Indonesia’s sovereignty over the provinces of Papua and West Papua. These provinces are sovereign parts of Indonesia and never were listed on the UN decolonisation committee. This fact is indisputable and is internationally recognised.”
A pro-independence petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans was smuggled out of the region late last year and delivered to the United Nations by the exiled West Papuan leader Benny Wenda but it was dismissed by the decolonisation committee, which said Papua was outside its mandate.
An activist who was arrested for his role in the petition, Yanto Awerkion, was released last month after 15 months in prison.