Indonesian police seize public buses for 328 arrested at ‘free Papua’ demo

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Indionesian police fie water cannon on Papuan demonstrators in Jakarta yesterday. Image: SuaraPapua.com

By Yudhistira Amran Saleh in Jakarta

Hundreds of Papuan demonstrators from the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) demanding independence for West Papua have been arrested and taken to the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters in Jakarta.

The transport of the activists had to be done in stages because the Indonesian police did not have enough vehicles to accommodate all of them. Some public buses were seized to take the activists away.

“The number of demonstrators was 328 people. The first load was 127 people, the second 201 people,” said Central Jakarta District police chief Senior Commissioner Hendro Pandowo at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta.

The first load of demonstrators were transported using police cars and trucks. Meanwhile, the rest were taken by Metro Mini public buses.

Police officers escorting the December 1 “independence day” protesters were also transported by Metro Mini buses that had by chance passed by.

“There weren’t enough vehicles. So we used Metro Mini [buses],” said Pandowo.

According to Pandowo, the student protest was illegal because they did not have a permit to demonstrate. They also attempted to break through a police barricade in order to march to the nearby State Palace.

Teargas fired
The police then fired teargas to disperse the demonstrators who ran in the direction of Jl. MH Thamrin in the direction of Sudirman.

The demonstrators managed to cause a traffic jam between Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin. The situation is now calm but the weather cloudy.

Earlier, Arnold Belau reported for Suara Papua from Jayapura that Indonesian colonial police had arrested 221 people in three different cities at December 1 “independence” rallies with 203 people arrested in Jakarta, four in Sentani, West Papua and 14 people in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta.

In Jakarta, a peaceful demonstration commemorating the anniversary of the birth of the Nation of West Papua which was led by the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) ended with brutal arrests by the Metro Jaya regional police.

Papuan protesters demanding independence. The headbands with the West Papuan flag are banned by the Indonesian authorities. Image: Maubere

Before being arrested, the protesters from the AMP and FRI-West Papua said they were “roughed up” and protest materials seized.

“We hadn’t even reached the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle [in Central Jakarta] when we were blocked by security personnel. They (the security personnel) tore the Morning Star head bands off our heads, our command line was cut.

“Then we were sprayed with water from a water cannon. After this we were taken in four trucks to the Metro Jaya police headquarters,” one of the protesters Roberta Muyapa told Suara Papua.

He said that after being taken to the Metro Jaya police headquarters the protesters were left to “dry out” in an open area for around four hours.

All 203 of them, he said, were arrested by fully equipped Indonesian colonial police along with hundreds of officers from the Metro Jaya regional police and Mobile Brigade paramilitary police.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Pendemo Asal Papua Diangkut ke Polda dengan Mobil Polisi dan Metro Mini.

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