Indonesian police raid Papuan student dormitory with tear gas, arrest 43

Indonesian police raid a Papuan dormitory in Surabaya. Image: Kompas

By Ghinan Salman in Surabaya

As many as 43 Papuan students were taken to the district police headquarters after Indonesian police fired teargas and forced their way into a student dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya at the weekend.

The Papuan students were forcibly removed from their dormitory on Jl Kalasan yesterday and hauled into trucks by police before being taken away.

Surabaya district police (Polrestabes) deputy police chief Assistant Superintendent Leonardus Simarmata said the Papuan students were taken in for questioning.

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Papuan students
Detained students at the raided Papuan dorm in Surabaya. Image: Yohanes Giyai/PMC

He said the police were investigating the vandalism of a national red-and-white Indonesian flag which was then thrown into a ditch, which had been allegedly committed by a “rogue” Papuan student.

“Currently, we’re taking statements at the Surabaya Polrestabes. In all there are 43 Papuan students that were arrested,” said Simarmata at the Papuan student dormitory.

Simarmata said the 43 students comprised 40 men and three women. He also gave assurances that the students would be returned home after being questioned.

“After we’ve finished they’ll be returned home. We’re treating (them) very well, we gave them time to go to the toilet if they wanted, have a drink and so on, we still gave them this. We still given them all their rights,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the situation at the Papuan student dormitory was again tense. Negotiations between the Papuan students and police, the subdistrict head and social figures reached an impasse.

At around 2.45pm local time police fired teargas into the dormitory at least 10 times. Armed with riot shields, police then forced their way into the dormitory by breaking down the front gate.

They then entered the dormitory and brought out a number of Papuan students who were then taken away in three trucks.

  • IndoLeft News reports that according to CNN Indonesia, the day before the arrests a photograph of a flag pole bearing the red-and-white national flag which had been vandalised and thrown into a ditch — allegedly by the Papuan students — was circulated on the NKRI Lovers Alliance WhatsApp group.
  • Several hundred outraged Islamic and nationalist vigilante groups then rushed to the dormitory only to find that the flag standing in place and undamaged. This did not however stop them from then besieging the dormitory, vandalising the front gates and pelting the dormitory with stones.
  • Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Polisi Angkut Paksa 43 Orang dari Asrama Mahasiswa Papua di Surabaya”.
  • More West Papua news
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