Thursday, July 14, 2016

1) Police disperse Papuan separatist rally, arrest dozens of activists

1) Police disperse Papuan separatist rally, arrest dozens of activists
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta/Papua | Thu, July 14 2016 | 09:55 am

Two activists with pro-independence group West Papua National Committee (KNPB) have undergone questioning at a police station in Papua for allegedly leading a rally that promoted separatism. 

The rally was staged to call for a bigger group, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), to be given membership status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), a subregional organization of Pacific nations, comprising Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia.

The ULMWP was formed last year when Vanuatu hosted a unification summit for West Papuan representative groups, and officially applied for full MSG membership in February 2015.

The police have charged the two activists, Yanto Awerkion and Semu Ukago, under Article 160 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on provocation.

“They were distributing leaflets that promoted Papua’s separation from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia,” said National Police spokesperson Comr. Martinus Sitompul on Wednesday.

The two activists have been charged with encouraging 98 other KNPB activists to join the rally, which took place days before a high-level MSG meeting on July 14 in the Solomon Islands. The meeting is expected to announce the fate of ULMWP’s membership bid.

All of the 100 activists were earlier detained at the police station in the city of Timika, however, some of them have been released. The activists were not all arrested in one fell swoop; 68 were arrested on Tuesday and 32 others were arrested on Wednesday.

Yanto, deputy chairman of the KNPB in Mimika, and Semu, the group’s secretary-general, were among the 68 activists arrested on Tuesday. Both are still undergoing questioning.

Meanwhile, at the time of writing, all 32 activists arrested on Wednesday were still detained at the headquarters of the police’s Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Timika.

The recent episode is not the first case of Papuan activists being arrested for pro-independence activities. 

“They will first seek a place in the MSG. Later on, they will get voting rights, which will lead to attempts to separate Papua from Indonesia. We must stop it now. That’s why we arrested the protesters” Martinus said. 

Meanwhile, Papua Police spokesperson chief commissioner Rudolf Patrige said the activists had ignored a ban on rallies issued by the police days before the mass arrest. 

Rudolf blamed the activists for going ahead with the rally in spite of the ban. “They forcibly moved on with their plan without securing a permit. Thus, the police also forcibly dispersed their gathering.”

The high-tension rally paralyzed Timika as hundreds of pro-independence activists and police personnel swarmed onto the streets, going head to head. The police later fired warning shots into the air. “All shops were closed. The police forcibly dispersed the gathering by firing [warning] shots,” said Hermanto, a local.

No casualties were reported during the violent protest.

The forced dispersal is only the latest in a mounting list of restrictions of freedom of expression cases in the conflict prone province, most of which remain unsettled. 

The arrest of the KNPB activists has also added the number of political prisoners in the resource-rich area.

There are currently 4,198 political prisoners in Papua, according to data jointly released by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) and local organisations.

2) Govt claims diplomatic ‘victory’ on Papua
Marguerite Afra Sapiie The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Thu, July 14 2016 | 09:01 pm
The government has claimed a diplomatic “victory” after blocking a Papuan separatist movement from becoming a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).    
Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Luhut B. Pandjaitan has confirmed that Indonesia's negotiations with MSG members had turned out in the country's favor, with the group rejecting the full membership bid of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).
"Indonesia's position in the group has been well received [...] we will propose taking full membership in the MSG soon," Luhut said.
The retired army general asserted that Indonesia's proposal to become a full member of the MSG would begin as soon as possible.
MSG is a subregional grouping in the Pacific, comprising Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia. Indonesia attained associate member status during the last MSG conference, which was held in the Solomon Islands in 2015.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi praised the work of the delegation, headed by Desra Percaya, and asserted that Papua fully belonged to Indonesia, saying that it will remain part of Indonesia forever. (ary)

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