Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk
Indonesian police have arrested 54 participants of a public hearing organised by the Papuan People’s Council (MPR) this week at the Valentine Hotel in Merauke regency in Papua.
They were arrested for alleged makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) yet the public hearing was actually discussing evaluating the implementation of Law Number 21/2001 on Special Autonomy (Otsus) in Papua, reports Kompas.
Merauke district police chief Assistant Superintendant Untung Suriatna explained the chronology leading up to the arrest of the participants which included those attending the public hearing as well as members of the MPR.
Initially, police wanted to break up the public hearing on Tuesday because they claimed the
organisers did not apply health protocols. But during the investigation, the police found out that there was a participant who tried to throw a document out of the hotel.
“First the event violated health protocols, but suddenly in the (process) of checking and rechecking there was a document which was thrown out, it was a yellow book,” said Suriatna when contacted by phone.
The police searched for the book. When it was found it turned out to contain the basic guidelines for the “West Papua Federal Republic”.
The book, which contained the name of the president of the West Papua Federal Republic, was used as material evidence by police of alleged makar.
“There was the name of the president, there is material evidence in the form of a book, there’s [also] a laptop which we are still holding”, he said.
54 people arrested
Based on these findings, the police secured 54 people including participants of the meeting and MRP members who were then detained for questioning. While in detention, said Suriatna, they behaved well and have now been sent home.
“Yesterday we detained them all in the context of taking data, we examined their health, we served them food and drink, we gave them a place to sleep, they were detained in the auditorium and give good quality military beds,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, November 15, an entourage of MRP members also wanted to hold a public hearing to discussion an evaluation of the Papua Special Autonomy law in Jayawijaya regency, reports Dhias Suwandi of Kompas.
Their arrival at the Wamena airport however was rejected by a group of people who prevented them from leaving the arrival hall. The entourages of MRP members were held at the airport for six hours until they were finally forced to returned to Jayapura on Sunday afternoon.
Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Ditangkap karena Dugaan Makar, Awalnya Peserta RDP Otsus Papua Dibubarkan karena Langgar Protokol Kesehatan”.
‘They dragged me down, arrested me’
Pacific Media Watch reports that people arrested tell a different story of harsh treatment. Wensislaus Fatubun, a former diplomat, human rights defender and documentary film maker who visited New Zealand in 2018, said in a statement:
“While I was sitting in front of the hotel, the Merauke police chief and his men came to the hotel. Several police officers carried rifles. They dragged me down [from] the hotel, [ransacked] my room, arrested me and handcuffed me along with other hotel residents.
“Before arresting me, the police chief asked me about my origin, my job, what were my interests in Merauke. I had a debate with the police chief and argued, because they asked for my ID card.
“After conducting the search, I was handcuffed by the police officers to the Dalmas [armoured] car. Cell phones, wallets, laptop bags, laptops and several other items except clothes and shoes were also transported to the police for examination as evidence.
“In the Dalmas car, besides me there were several MRP members, staff and RDP participants who stayed with us.
“I saw that the coordinator of the MRP RDP Team, two MRP staff and a participant were handcuffed just like me.
“At around 1055 Papuan time, we arrived at the Merauke Police. I and 4 other people were still handcuffed. The handcuffs were removed when we sat down to inspect our belongings.
“All the people who were arrested were gathered at the Merauke police hall. Our belongings that were secured by the police officers were checked and we were asked to hand over the report of the evidence.
“After that we just sat down. We purchased our own lunch. We also bought drinking water ourselves.
“At around 1600 Papua time, we began to undergo investigations.
“I was examined separately in a separate room by the officer. I was asked about my personal identity, family, RDP MRP, my job and the source of the RDP MRP costs. I gave a statement but refused to sign it.
“One night we stayed at the Merauke police hall. Everyone [who was] arrested. In the hall, police officers did not pay attention to health protocols.
“At around 09.05 Papuan time, I was called again by the officers to ask for information about the RDP MRP manual, and more specifically point 3 the objectives of the MRP RDP.
“Point 3 is written about the MRP RDP for OAP to determine their own fate. I explained that self-determination needs to be well understood and not just a referendum but also needs to be linked to human rights, particularly the principles of FPIC.
“At around 1400 Papua time, two MRP members, me and MRP staff signed a statement letter made by the Merauke police.
“At around 1645, we were declared free. However, some items were detained, namely my belongings, belongings of the team coordinator, members of the MRP, and some money.”