Update from Yapen:
Pro-independence supporters gathered at Yapen yesterday to voice their support for the ‘self-determination’ call now ringing throughout West Papua. They demanded their human rights to be respected; meaning, Indonesia should adhere to international law and allow West Papuans to hold public rally, and speak freely about issues affecting their community. Supporters from various villages in and around Yapen showed up with a lot of food – coconuts, green-banana to share with other activists.
These brave indigenous people held up banners as they and listened to their leaders who called for the end to genocide of West Papuans, and the militarization of West Papua! Mr. Edison Kendi – a former political prisoner and a brave ambitious West Papuan activist – spoke empathically about these issues.
However, just 30 minutes before their rally – public march, the Indonesian broke up the rally and arrested Edison Kendi, Ayub Rawai and Patrik Maay. These three leaders took full responsibility for the rally. As such, they are taken into police. We know what these peaceful activists are going through; they are excruciating interrogation.
Indonesian police reaction
A few days prior to the the protest, the Indonesian police rejected applications by indigenous groups. They also told them in person not to hold public rally on September 16. As West Papuans gathered to protest, the Indonesian chief of police in Yappen ordered his officers to disrupt the protest and apprehend their leaders.
This is Indonesia and police chiefs across West Papua are the LAW, if they say “no protest,” that’s it. But nothing they say would intimidate our people.
Another plausible argument is that the Indonesian authority in Yapen feared that the rally would attract support from the general public as it happened in the past. Our protests in the past started off slow but then ballooned to a huge rally as more and more joined. This is, in the general view of the political activists on the ground, done to prevent the rally from reaching major areas in Yapen.
Massive peaceful protest in the Highlands
On the same day, a large peaceful protest took place in the Highlands region of West Papua. Villagers around this part of the Highlands gathered to show their support for the ‘self-determination’ for West Papua. So far, no report of arrest or police intervention. We will update this page when we receive updates from home.
Protect the innocent people
Here at the West Papuan Human Rights Center, we are concerned about the arrest of peaceful leaders and what the Indonesian police maybe doing to them right now. We urge the Indonesian government and police protect them, and release them soon because we believe these men are peaceful protesters who were simply exercising their right to protest. Else, give them each a fair trial!
West Papuan Human Rights Center