Asia Pacific Report newsdesk
Indonesian police have been accused of beating two Papuan students with rattan sticks – severely injuring them — while 20 other students have been injured and the Morning Star flag seized in a crackdown on separate protests yesterday across the two Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.
The protesters were blocked by police during a long march in the provincial capital of Jayapura opposing planned new autonomous regions in Papua.
The police have denied the rattan beating claims.
Papuan human rights activist Younes Douw said almost 3000 students and indigenous Papuans (OAP) took to the streets for the action.
“Around 650 students took to the streets today. Added to by the Papuan community of around 2000 people,” Douw told CNN Indonesia.
Douw said that the actions yesterday were held at several different points in Jayapura such as Yahukimo, Waena and Abepura.
Almost every single gathering point, however, was blockaded by police.
“Like this morning there was a police blockade from Waena on the way to Abepura,” he said.
Douw said that two students were injured because of the repressive actions by police.
The two were named as Jayapura Science and Technology University (USTJ) student David Goo and Cendrawasih University (Unas) student Yebet Tegei.
Both suffered serious head injuries.
“They were beaten using rattan sticks,” Douw said.
Jayapura district police chief Assistant Superintendent Victor Mackbon denied the reports from the students.
“It’s a hoax. So please, if indeed they exist, they [should] report it. But if they don’t exist, that means it’s not true,” Mackbon told CNN Indonesia.
The police had earlier banned the demonstration against new autonomous regions being organised by the Papua People’s Petition (PRP).
The Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) said that by last night at least 20 people had been injured as a result of police violence in in breaking up the protests.
“In Sorong, 10 people were injured. In Jayapura, 10 were also injured,” LBH Papua chair Emanuel Gobay told Kompas.com.
“The injuries were a consequence of the repressive approach by police against demonstrators when they broke up the rallies,” he said.
Police also arrested several people during the protests.
“In Nabire, 23 people were arrested then released later in the afternoon.
“Two people were also arrested in Jayapura and released later,” Gobay said.
When this article was published, however, local police were still denying that any protesters had been injured.
Fires, flag seized in Sorong
In Sorong, police broke up a demonstration against the autonomous regions at the Sorong city Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) office, reports Kompas.com.
Earlier, the demonstrators had asked DPRD Speaker Petronela Kambuaya to meet with them but there was no response.
The demonstrators then became angry and set fire to tyres on the DPRD grounds and police fired teargas into the rally.
Sorong district police operations division head Police Commander Moch Nur Makmur said that the action taken was following procedure.
“We had already appealed to the korlap [protest field coordinator], saying that if there were fires we would break up [the rally], but they (the protesters) started it all so we took firm action and broke it up,” said commander Makmur.
Police also seized a Morning Star independence flag during the protest. The flag was grabbed when the demonstrators were holding a long march from the Remu traffic lights to the Sorong DPRD.
Makmur said that when police saw somebody carrying the Morning Star flag, they seized it.
“The flag was removed immediately, officers were quick to seize the flag,” he said.
Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was Demo Tolak DOB Diadang Aparat di Papua, Mahasiswa Luka Dipukul Rotan.