Monday, September 16, 2013

According to KNPB, 249 of their members have been arrested

Jayapura: The National Committee of West Papua - KNPB - has claimed that  249 members have been arrested by the police across West Papua because they took part in demonstrations to mark International Democracy Day on Monday this week.

This was announced by the co-ordinator of the action, Warpo Wetipo who was accompanied by the spokesman of the KNPB, Wim Rocky Madlama and the first deputy chairman of KNPB Agus Kossay. Warpo said that because International Democracy Day was on Sunday, they decided to hold their demonstration on the following day, Monday.

Warpo said it as highly regrettable that the police had taken action against the demontrators despite the fact that they had previoously given notice of their intention to hold a peaceful demonstration.. They were forcibly dispersed and a number of their activists were arrested.

Warpo said: 'The chief of security [Kamtibmas]  knows very well that there is a procedure in cases like this but nevertheless they always  go out and arrest people without thinking about a possible compromise or first entering into talks with the demonstrators.'

Forcibly dispersing demonstrators  is surely not a good example to set for their subordinates  who are inclined to become very emotional when they carry out their work.

Given the nature of the operations being undertaken by the police, the KNPB has suggested to the chief of police that he should try to ensure that all his men understand things like the rule of law, democracy and basic human rights.

'As we all know, the KNPB is marking the International Democracy Day and we are quite sure that Indonesia knows this, but democratic  values are being ignored whereas these are principles that should be applied everywhere in Indonesia and particularly in Papua.'

The chairman of KNPB, Agus Kossay expressed his gratitude to the security forces and particularly to the police chief for having forcibly dispersed  the demonstration and then gone ahead with arresting so many KNPB activists, as well as confiscating their loud speakers  and sound system. In doing so, they have shown their appreciation for the KNPB's struggle for independence.

'We also want to expresse our gratitude  to the poilce force and to the chief of police  because they have, whether they realise it or not,  shown that the struggle we are waging  is a struggle for independence.'

Agus stressed that the members of the KNPB and many others will continue to demonstrate  in order to reflect the feelings of the Papuan people  for independence or for a referendum .

'We are the real inheritors of this land and we will continue to hold demonstrations demanding independence , with or without the permission of the authorities. We hope that the chief of police will act in accordance with the established procedures and will ensure that their subordinates do not act as they like, such as arresting anybody without any evidence of wrong-doing.'

The KNPB spokesman , Wim Rocky Medlama said that demonstrations for democracy are taking place right across West Papua, in Sorong, Biak, Fakfak, Nabire, Serui, Mimika, Paniai and Wamena . as well as in Jayapura , Yahukimo, Yalimo, Merauke and Manokwari. In all these places, there ae people demonstrating to mark International Democracy Day.

'We are grateful to the security forces for helping to speed up our actions for independence. Altogether twelve people were arrested in the heart of Jayapura , nine were arrested in Ekspo and in Sentani as many as 159 people were arrested  as well as three others in Waena  and in Nabire. Fourteen people were arrested in Sorong and others elsewhere. This means that altogether as many as 249 people have been arrested.'

Meanwhile, deputy co-ordinator, Tony Kobak  in a speech he delivered in Jayapura said that there were no grounds for the police to prohibit the demonstrations held to mark International Democracy Day.Nor did the police have any grounds for rejecting our request to hold a demonstration., he said.

'We have never done anything to disrupt law and order yet even so, the police refused our request. They are guilty of violating the principles upon which this International Day is founded. International Democracy Day is being celebrated all over the world,' said Tony Kobak. 'And moreover, the Indonesian state and its government  have done nothing to put an end to human rights violations which continue to occur in West Papua to this very day. Even though they say nothing, our ideas are inspiring people to struggle for an independent Papua and for the right to self-determination.'

The chief of police confirmed that actions for International Democracy Day have been happening in many parts of West Papua,, adding that the situation in the territory was 'conducive'.

A number of activists have been arrested and are undergoing interrogation for allegedly disturbing law and order  when they held their demonstrations.

Human rights defend Matius Murib said in an interview with Bintang Papua said that demonstrators  in the city of Jayapura and the environs were attacked by the police  before they started their march. Their banners were confiscated, while the general public were able to continue with their everyday activities as normal.

Demonstrations in many places such as Timika, Sorong, Wamena and Manokwari were heavily guarded by the police . Murib said that he hoped that the dispersal of demonstrators would persuade the KNPB to consider replacing their activities with something more acceptable to the rest of the community.

'As we mark International Democracy Day,  let us hope that the principle of democracy can be built in ways that accord with customary beliefs and with religion, as a way of  spreading the princples of justice and freedom  to all people without discrimination.'

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