Indonesian police break up rally after Papuan protesters wreck police truck

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Smashed police truck window
The smashed police truck window during the Papuan protest in Malang, East Java. Image: Muhammad Aminudin/Detik

By Muhammad Aminudin in Malang, East Java

A Papuan demonstration held near the Gajayana stadium in Malang city, East Java, ended in chaos with protesters accused of smashing a police truck window after they were ordered to disperse for violating health protocols.

Glass fragments hit the police officer who was behind the wheel. The protest began as a peaceful demonstration to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) that was being held by the Women’s Movement with the People (GEMPUR).

The protesters had earlier gathered on Jalan Semeru in preparation for a long-march to the Malang city hall. At the same time, protesters from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Papuan High-School and University Student Association (IPMAPA) also began gathering at the Gajayana stadium.

When the GEMPUR protesters decided to disband and cancelled the long-march, the demonstrators from the AMP and the IPMAPA began protesting and held speeches.

Police along with Malang City Covid-19 Task Force members ordered the demonstrators to disperse because they were violating health protocols.

Three trucks were on standby to evacuate the protesters and take them to their respective locations. Negotiations became protracted with protesters refusing to be evacuated and instead smashing a police truck window.

Malang municipal police chief Senior Commissioner Leonardus Simarmata claimed that the protest action commemorating IWD was just “a cover” and the objective was opposition to the controversial Special Autonomy extension plan (Otsus) and calls for Papuan independence.

West Papua independence banners
Aside from violating health protocols because the protest was held during the covid-19 pandemic and the Micro Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM), the demonstrators also unfurled banners with messages rejecting Special Autonomy and proclaiming demands for West Papua independence.

“The intent was actually noble, but during the pandemic and Micro PPKM crowds are prohibited. And also the action was only used as a cover by the AMP and the IPMAPA to call for West Papua independence,” Simarmata told journalists.

While there were efforts at negotiations to take the protesters back to their respective locations, said Simarmata, “provocative actions” continued when they asked demonstrators to get into the trucks provided.

Because the demonstrators resisted and refused to get in the trucks, police then forcibly broke up the protest. Protesters were then taken to the Malang municipal police headquarters for questioning.

“The Satreskrim [criminal and detectives unit] is questioning them, who was involved and pushed the officers. We also confiscated the shoe used to kick out the truck window,” said Simarmata.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoNews Left. The original title of the article was “Demo Hari Perempuan Sedunia di Malang Ricuh, Pendemo Pecah Kaca Truk Polisi”.

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