Indonesian police make an arbitrary arrest of 5 students in Jayapura

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Morning Star flag protest 220321
The Morning Star flag protest at the Jayapura University of Science and Technology yesterday. Image: Tabloid Jubi

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Indonesian police have made an arbitrary arrest of ffve students holding a peaceful action in front of the Jayapura University of Science and Technology, according to Papuan news sources.

The students were detained yesterday by the police because they took peaceful action demanding that the Indonesian government grant permission to allow the UN Human Rights High Commissioner to visit West Papua.

A media release received by Asia Pacific Report named four students detained by the police as Ernesto Matuan, Malvin Yobe, Apedo Doo, Devio Tekege and Dese Dumupa. However, some news reports said five students were detained.

The release said the university was a higher education provider that guaranteed freedom of speech.

It said the police or military had no right to intervene in university students’ activities.

Before the action took place, the release said, the police had been monitoring the scene and when the demonstration began, the police entered the campus and brutally carried out the arrests.

“The students took action, while the police had rushed and left the campus before the students took action.

“While the students were taking action, within a few minutes the police had arrived using a Sabhara car(registration XIVII 2406-28) and a white Avansa car (DS 5032 KN).

“Upon arrival, the police went straight to the scene of the action on campus and dispersed the crowd while forcibly seizing some tools and equipment for the action,” said the report.

Illegal flag-raising
One of the images shared with APR showed a Morning Star flag of independence being held by one of the demonstrators.

In Indonesia, when someone raises the Morning Star flag, risk being jailed for 15 years for “treason”.

The assistant rector three in charge of student affairs Isak Rumbarar told APR that his party was surprised by the messages circulating on social media. He said the public had asked him many questions about the demonstration and the arrests.

But he said he was not in Jayapura – he is in Biak.

“I was so shocked when I received a lot of messages from my colleagues and messages circulated on social media that there was a demonstration and the Morning Star flag was raised at the campus yard. Another thing that makes me shocked is because there is no initial notification to us,” said Rumbarar.

He said his party had reminded students several times about the risks of demonstrations during the covid-19 period.

“During this covid-19 period it would be better if demonstration activities involving many people should not be conducted because law enforcement officials could use this excuse to disperse and arrest demonstrators,” Rumbarar said.

Alert campus authorities plea
Rubarar said that if the students would like to demonstrate to the government, either the central government in Jakarta or provincial government in Papua, and the demonstration was planned to take place in the university, then the organisers should let the campus know first.

“When the Morning Star is raised and when the police officers or law enforcement officials have taken over, we as university cannot do much,” said Rumbarar.

The tabloid Jubi reports that the director of the Papua Legal Aid Institute, Emanuel Gobay, said that his party had confirmed the news of the arrest of five students to the Jayapura City Police (Polresta).

“Earlier I confirmed [this with the] police, but the police said there was no arrest warrant, and they were detaining [them] just for clarification. That’s why I asked us to assist with clarification,” said Gobay.

Gobay said that initially the five students were taken to the Abepura City Sector Police Headquarters. They were then taken to the Jayapura Police Headquarters to undergo a medical examination, and have their fingerprints and photographs taken.

The head of Jayapura Police, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Gustav Urbinas, said that the arrested students had not been “restrained”.

According to him, the five students were only transported to the Jayapura Police to be asked for information.

Filed for Asia Pacific Report by a West Papuan correspondent who cannot be named.

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