Papua advocates slam police violence, sexual harassment at US embassy protest

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Arrested Papuan activists in Jakarta 300921
Arrested Papuan activists protest as they are taken away in a police vehicle in Jakarta on September 30, 2021. Image: IndoLeft News/CNN

By Rahel Narda Chaterine in Jakarta

The Papua Advocacy Team says that Indonesian police committed acts of violence and sexual harassment while breaking up a protest and arrested 17 people in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta last week.

The team said that that the protest on Thursday was forcibly broken up by police without legal grounds.

“During the dispersal of the rally, there were protesters who were hit in the eye, trampled on, kicked, and a Papuan woman was sexually harassed,” the team declared in a media release.

Based on the advocacy team’s release, the protesters from the Papua Student Alliance (AMP) and several other civil society organisations arrived at the US Embassy at around 11 am.

The action was to demand the annulment of the 1962 New York Agreement which paved the way for Papua’s integration into Indonesia, the release of all Papuan political prisoners and the withdrawal of the military from Papua.

As they began conveying their demands the police immediately ordered then to disperse on the grounds of covid-19 social distancing restrictions.

According to the advocacy team, teargas was fired at the demonstration when police broke up the action.

Protester thrown out
“One of the protesters who couldn’t stand the teargas was thrown out of a vehicle by police and injured their foot. Other protesters meanwhile were packed into a [police detention] vehicle because they door was locked from the outside,” the group said.

According to the advocacy team, these incidents were a violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Law Number 39/1999 on Human Rights and Law Number 9/1998 on the Freedom to Express and Opinion in Public.

The advocacy team also believes that the police actions were a violation of freedom of expression and opinion which is guaranteed under the 1945 Constitution.

The Papua Advocacy Team is made up of Michael Himan, representing the group Papua This is Us; Citra Referandum from the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH); Nixon Randy from the Community Legal Aid Institute (LBH Masyarakat); and Abimanyu Septiadji from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

The group strongly urged Indonesian police chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo to take action against the officers and to apologise.

“To take firm action in terms of ethical, disciplinary and criminal [sanctions] for the violations and the physical, psychological and sexual violence by the Central Jakarta Metro Jaya district police against the protesters,” the group said.

17 demonstrators arrested
One of the protesters, former political prisoner Ambrosius Mulait, said that 17 demonstrators were forcibly taken away by police as soon as they arrived at the US Embassy.

They were only released on Friday, October 1, after being questioned for 18 hours.

“It was only [on Friday] at 7.45 am that they were released without any kind of status, none were declared suspects [charged],” said Citra Referandum, an advocate for the arrested activists.

Kompas.com reports that the Papua Advocacy Team said two Papuan activists had also been arrested by police at the Jakarta LBH despite the fact that they did not take part in the US Embassy rally.

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Tim Advokasi Papua: Ada Massa Ditendang hingga Alami Pelecehan Seksual Saat Pembubaran Demo di Kedubes AS”.

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