Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Indonesian police have arrested a total of 90 Papuan students during a protest action near the Presidential Palace complex in Central Jakarta which ended in chaos with allegations of assaults on six protesters.
The demonstration by the Papuan students last Friday was to oppose the creation of new provinces in Papua.
“A total of 90 people”, said Metro Jaya regional police public relations division head Senior Commissioner E Zulpan when sought for confirmation on the arrests.
- READ MORE: Police break up protests in Jayapura over new Papuan provinces plan
- Other West Papua reports
After being arrested, the students were taken to the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters.
Zulpan said that they would be returned home after being questioned.
“They will be returned home after being identified and questioned,” said Zulpan.
The protest, which ended in chaos, resulted in Central Jakarta district police intelligence unit head Assistant Superintendent Ferikson Tampubolon suffering head injuries after being allegedly assaulted by the protesters.
In addition to this, a number of other police officers were injured.
The demonstrators claimed that five protesters suffered injuries during the clash with police. One of them, a women, was knocked unconscious.
Zulpan however denied that police assaulted any of the demonstrators.
“There were no police officers who assaulted the demonstrators,” said Zulpan.
Advocacy Team slams police violence
The Papua Advocacy Team has called on the Metro Jaya police chief to punish the police officers who allegedly committed violence against six Papuans during the rally near the Presidential Palace.
One of the Advocacy Team members, Teo Reffelsen, said that if the acts of violence by police were based on an order from a superior officer, then they must also be held responsible.
“Police must legally process police officers who committed the violence against the six Papuans,” said Reffelsen in a written release sent to CNN Indonesia.
“If it was based on an order, then their senior officer must also be held criminally responsible,” he said.
Reffelsen also said that based on information obtained from the participants in the action, one of the six students, Ince, was kicked in the chest by a police officer and fell unconscious.
Another, Bob, suffered scratches to his leg and chest after being kicked. Samuel Purwaro was kicked and dragged into a detention vehicle and suffered injuries to his right eye, and Deris Murib was kicked in the forehead and back of his body.
Daten meanwhile was struck in the head using a motorcycle helmet and a member of Solidarity Indonesia was kicked by police.
Suffered injuries, cracked teeth
“He suffered injuries to his body and cracked teeth. His genitals were grabbed, then his mobile phone. [But] his mobile phone has been returned,” said Reffelsen.
The Papuan students clashed with police near the Presidential Palace when they wanted to move off to the Home Affairs Ministry to protest against the creation of six new provinces in Papua.
Around 30 people claiming to be Papuan students tried to head off to the nearby Home Affairs Ministry on Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara via Jalan Veteran near the State Secretariat building in the presidential complex.
There, scores of police officers had already prepared a blockade and the demonstrators were prohibited from going any further. Tough negotiations between the two parties proceeded for up to 30 minutes.
The police continued to refuse to let the demonstrators pass and the two sides began pushing and shoving each other. A short time later the demonstrators broke through the blockade.
Police then chased the students and succeeded in breaking up the demonstration. Several were involved in fist fights.
IndoLeft News notes: A second article by CNN Indonesia later on the same day reported that 89 of those arrested had been returned home. “Yes, they’ve been sent home”, said Zulpan when sought for confirmation. Zulpan said however that one person named Alfius Wenda was still being questioned in relation to the alleged assault on Assistant Superintendent Ferikson Tampubolon.
Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was Demo Papua Berujung Ricuh di Dekat Istana, Total 90 Orang Ditangkap.