More arrests in Indonesia follow West Papua protests

Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) spokesperson, Surya Anta was arrested in Jakarta on August 31 and accused of “subversive” acts in relation to his advocacy for West Papua.

According to the Civil Society Coalition for Democracy (CSCD), this was the fourth arrest following the protests. Two Papuan students were arrested in Depok in West Java on August 30, after authorities forcibly broke into their dormitory, and pointed guns at residents.

Activists were also arrested in Jakarta during a solidarity protest in front of the Greater Jakarta Metropolitan Regional Police station on August 31.

Three Papuan women were arrested during a joint operation by army and police personnel in South Jakarta on August 31, at the residence of Papuan students, originally from Nduga province. Suara Papua reported that one of the women was beaten during her arrest and the arrests took place without warrants.

So far, eight people have been arrested, including Anta. They are: Carles Kossay; Dano Tabuni; Ambrosius Mulait; Isay Wenda; Naliana Wasiangge; Wenebita Wasiangge; and Norince Kogoya.

The arrestees are being held in Mako Brimob (Police Mobile Brigade Detention).

According to CSCD, apart from the arrests, police have been surrounding Papuan students’ dormitories and conducting sweeps “without clear grounds for doing so”.

“These incidents demonstrate that attempts are being made to target Papuans, especially Papuan students.”

“This kind of action threatens our democracy, which Indonesians have fought for since the reformation.

“Besides leading to further race discrimination, such actions may also exacerbate existing tensions and lead to an escalation which could put the safety of civilians in Papua and elsewhere further at stake.”

CSCD is calling for a stop to the sweeps and similar operations against Papuan students, an end to arbitrary arrests, and for dialogue to end the conflict peacefully. It is urging security forces, especially police, to act lawfully by upholding human rights.