Jayapura, Jubi – Papuan student from the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Semarang and Salatiga Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) Committees held a joint protest action in the Central Java city of Salatiga in Thursday August 15.
The groups were protesting against the New York agreement which was signed by Indonesia and the Netherlands on August 15, 1962, because the agreement marked the start of human rights violations in Papua.
The peaceful action by the Papuan students began at the flyover connecting Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) at 9 am.
The protesters put up banners in front of the UKSW campus rejecting the New York agreement signed 56 years ago then moved off towards the Salatiga city traffic circle. When they arrived at around 10.30 am, they gave speeches and shouted slogans supporting Papuan independence.
A number of activists took turns giving political speeches slamming the agreement between Indonesia, the Netherlands and the US saying that the people of Papua, who became legally subject to the agreement, were never in fact a party to the deal.
“The New York agreement on the transfer [of power] of the Papuan region [from Holland to Indonesia] was made only in the economic and political interests of Indonesia and the imperialist country the United States”, explained action coordinator Jackson Gwijangge in a press release on Thursday August 15.
Gwijangge said that the military operations launched in the Papuan district of Nduga on the orders of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo have resulted in violence against civilians and forced many people to flee. According to Gwijangge, between December 2018 and August 2019 as many as 185 civilians have died.
“[As a consequence of the armed conflict in Nduga] people are still seeking refuge in various neighbouring areas such as Lanny Jaya, Timika, Puncak and Wamena. [All of this goes back to] the New York agreement, [an agreement] which was illegal because it did not involve indigenous Papuans as the owners of the country”, said Gwijangge.
In another speech, Mey Tebay declared that the Papuan nation became independent on December 1, 1961. Tebay stated that Indonesia must acknowledge its error in occupying Papua.
Another speaker, Otis Tabuni, said that the Indonesian government and military have not respected the laws which protect the human rights of citizens in Indonesia and have violated the civil and political rights of the Papuan people.
Tabuni stated that if Indonesia continues to use military force against civilians in Papua, sooner or later the country will disintegrate.
The demonstrators demanded that the government immediately withdraw TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (police) personnel from Nduga, give the Papuan people the right to self-determination and guarantee the Papuan people’s right to free expression.
They also called on Indonesia to close down and halt the activities of huge mining projects in the land of Papua, including Freeport MacMoRan in Mimika and BP in LNG Tangguh.
Widodo was also asked to immediately revoke Presidential Regulation Number 40/2013 on Road Construction in the Framework of Accelerating Development in the Provinces of Papua and West Papua, because it has legitimised the involvement of the military in constructing roads in Papua.
They also called on Indonesia to immediately open access to Papua for foreign journalists and humanitarian aid.
(Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Mahasiswa Papua di Semarang dan Salatiga juga demo menolak New York Agreement“.)
Special report: Risking peace in Wamena (part three of six articles)
An exploded mass riot blasted Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya Regency, Papua on 23 September 2019 has shocked the public’s sense of humanity. Everyone was shaken and mourned to see how the anti-racism protest by students exploded into a riot killing at least 42 people and destroyed half of the biggest town in Papua’s central highland.
But what people want right now is to embroider the already-torn apart social relationship, to heal the wounds promptly. On the other hand, the government has many things to do if they want to rebuild a robust peace in society. The article is the third part of six articles of “Risking peace in Wamena”.
Mass outraged in the downtown
Every single minute passed in silence at the lawn of the Jayawijaya regent office. A TVRI journalist Naftali Pawika risked for taking a picture of protesters in the yard because some students had warned anyone for not taking their photographs or videos during the protest.
“So I could only sit down at the back. To every journalist who later came, I told them for not taking their picture because they might be angry,” said Naftali Pawika.
Those students also refused the security forces. When a group of Mobile Brigade personnel stopped at Yos Sudarso Street caught by the students, they run out of the regent office’s compound, throwing stones and asking the Brimob personnel to go away. When the troops left, the students turned calm. They quietly sat and waited for the Regent Jhon Richard Banua.
“They didn’t want to see the security forces after hearing their seven friends arrested by police. They were waiting for the regent because they wanted him to release their friends,” said Pawika.
Meanwhile, the human rights activist Theo Hesegem said the Regent Jhon Richard Banua arrived at his office along with Lieutenant Colonel Infantry Candra Dianto, the Military District Commandant of 1702/Jayawijaya. Before the regent had a chance talking with the students, a military adjutant took a shot of the students.
“It made the students mad. They were throwing stones towards the regent and military commandant. The commandant finally left the compound through the back door,” said Hesegem in Wamena on 5 October 2019.
But, Amid the chaos, suddenly smoke raised from the finance department located in the back compound of the regent office. According to Naftali Pawika, the fire surprised everyone because the students were in the front yard of the regent office.
“The regent who took shelter to escape the stones throwing came out to calm down the students. Everything was under control after the regent promised to take care of their friends arrested by police. The students then sat peacefully until a fire brigade car entered the compound to help to extinguish the fire in the finance department,” said Naftali Pawika.
Suddenly, they became angry and chased that car to the back office’s compound. At the same time, there was another group entered the office compound through the back door. “They are adults. They joined the students’ crowd. The situation was getting chaotic. Finally, other buildings in the regent office compound also burned,” said Naftali Pawika.
The outraged mass came out from the regent office compound to the street. They marched through SMP 2 Wamena in Diponegoro Street and tried to penetrate the Wamena Airport in Trikora Street. At the t-section of Diponegoro and Trikora streets, the police shot the tear gas to dismiss the crowd.
Blocked by police, the mob moved back and turned into Ahmad Yani Street. They then turned towards the orphanage Panti Asuhan Pelangi and walked approaching Trikora Street. Many witnesses believe that the mob eventually wanted to burn the Wamena Airport. The police once again confronted the crowd with tear gas shots. Gunfire continuously shot to scatter the mob. They run away to all direction, mainly towards Pasar Misi in Wouma.
Meanwhile, Father RD Allo Dabi Pr who was in the Central Highland Diocese Office in Wouma heard the gunfire since 09 a.m. Many innocent people were panic and run away in all direction. Many Catholics came and refuged to the diocese office.
“At 10.30 p.m., the situation was getting tenser. The traditional market, Pasar Misi, burned out. When the Brimob arrived at Pasar Misi, the fire had spread to other locations. When the students saw the Brimob opened gunfire, instead of fear, they attacked the Brimob,” said Father Allo.
At the same time, the outraged mass due to a shooting incident in Homhom started to come to Wouma. “Three adults carrying traditional bow and arrows entered to the diocese office’s yard. It seems they wanted to go to Pasar Misi. I asked them to go because they would harm people who took refuge here. Thank God they left. A few moments later, the police came. I raised my hand, and they asked me, ‘a priest?’ I answered, yes, I am a priest, then they went away,” said Father Allo.
Meanwhile, in Pasar Misi, the tension amongst the outraged mass that repelled by police was getting worst. They took the retail gasoline in bottle displayed in front of the stall, used it to burn any shops and stalls there. Some traders trapped inside their shops or stalls. The riot in Pasar Misi, Wouma, on 23 September 2013 took the most casualties. Father Allo said the tense gradually decreased at 3.00 p.m.
The official police data said the mass riot in Homhom and Wouma on 23 September 2019 had killed 33 people, caused 80 injuries and traumatised thousands of people. Meanwhile, dozens of thousands of people from Wamena and surrounding areas refuged to some refugee camps or left Wamena. In Wamena, some offices reportedly burned, while 351 shops and 27 houses also demolished by fire.
Some Jubi sources confirmed that seven of 33 death victims from the police’s record killed by bullets during the mass riot on 23 September 2019. The victims are Eliaken Wetapo, Gestanus Hisage, Ketron Kogoya, Manu Meage, Mison Lokbere, Yus Asso, Eles Himan. Jubi also received information about another victim, Marius Wenda, who also killed by the bullet. However, this information has not yet verified.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Papua Customary Council elected in the Extraordinary Congress noted that there are eight other death victims but not yet recorded by police. They are Kelion Tabuni, Niligi Wenda, Lawan Hesegem, Beam Wenda, Inius Tabuni, Naligin Yikwa, Wenas Babingga, Yandrik Wenda. The council stated that these eight victims died because of the bullets.
Jubi also received information from another source confirmed that a resident Nisaba Himan also killed on 23 September. Some residents witnessed his body found in Pisugi with a gunshot wound on the chest. Nisaba Himan is also not recorded in both police’s record and the council. With the addition of nine death victims, the mass riot in Wamena on 23 September 2019 has killed at least 42 people. (To be continued)
Jubi Journalists Victor Mambor and Islami Adisubrata also contributed into the article writing.
Special report: Risking peace in Wamena (Part 2 of 6)
An exploded mass riot blasted Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya Regency, Papua, on 23 September 2019 has shocked public’s sense of humanity. Everyone shaken and mourned to see how the anti-racism protest by students exploded into a riot killing at least 42 people and destroyed a half of the biggest town in Papua’s highlands.
But what people want right now is to embroider the already-torn-apart social relationship immediately, to promptly heal the wounds. On the other hand, the government has many things to concern if they want to rebuild a robust peace in society. The article is the second part of six articles of “Risking peace in Wamena”.
An obscured morning in Homhom
At the same time, hundreds of people dressed in high school uniform also gathered in Homhom, a location situated only 3.2 Km north of the Jayawijaya regent office. They looked furious. A pastor of Wesorama Baptist Church of the Papua Baptist Fellowship Church (PGBP) in Pikhe, the Rev. Simet Yikwa, said the mob wanted to approach the regent office to join the protest against racism by a teacher of SMA PGRI Wamena.
But, they were not able to pass the police at Wamena Police Headquarters in Homhom Street. While forcibly returned to the t-section in Pikhe Street, the mob were becoming more violent. “They threw stones in all directions. They are so many, perhaps thousand. They just threw away the stones randomly. But, no one set a fire at the time,” said the Rev. Yikwa.
The police repeatedly come to the scene and warned them with several warning shots. Instead of stepping down, the mob even became more desperate after hearing seven students been arrested by the police when they came to SMA Yapis Wamena. In the chaos, people scattered to run away trying to escape from Homhom Street.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Papua Customary Council elected in the Extraordinary Congress, Dominikus Surabut, told that he met some protesters running from Homhom Street to the intersection of SD Percobaan and Sangiri streets.
“I was able talking to a high school student standing near me, ‘boy, wait a minute!’, but another student then shouted at me, ‘hey you! You’re provocateur!’ trying to hit my body with a wooden stick. I deflected, and the bat broke. But, it was not over yet. A girl came to approach. She hit my helmet with a big stone and kicked my motorbike,” said Dominikus Surabut.
Surabut believes that those who had abused him were students. However, he also thought some of the protesters look ‘mature’ as students. Because he was aware that the masses did not recognise him and he would not be able to calm them down, he finally pulled away.
Meanwhile, a resident Obeth Alua testified the crowd in the t-section of Homhom, and Pikhe streets refuse people to approach. Therefore, Obeth and his friend only watched a mass rampage occurred in front of Yudha Supermarket from a distance. Also, he does not know any of those who involved in the violence.
“They said they want to do the anti-racism rally. I don’t know those people, so I just watched from a distance. Suddenly I saw two people from the crowd shot down: a boy and a girl,” said Obeth Alua. He remembers the victims did not wear high school uniform.
The Rev. Simet Yikwa confirmed there was a boy shot during the rampage in Homhom Street. Later, he learned the boy’s name is Kelion Tabuni (20 years old), an architecture student from Universitas Negeri Manado, North Sulawesi. However, he was unaware of the girl that Alua mentioned of being shot and taken to Wesaput. Jubi also cannot obtain further confirmation about the girl from other sources.
However, both the Rev. Yikwa and Alua testified about how they saw the wave of outrage amongst the masses rapidly grew after they saw Kelion Tabuni died. Some residents who previously watched from a distance turned angry, joined the crowd and attacked the shops surround Homhom and Pikhe streets.
“I saw some people carried the body of Kelion Tabuni, moved it to Pikhe. Meanwhile, the mob started attacking shops and stalls there. They took gasoline in the bottles displayed in front of the shops, threw it to the shops in Homhom Street and set alight,” said the Rev. Yikwa.
They burned Dina Teknik, a car repair shop located in Homhom Street, also Yudha Supermarket’s warehouse. During the rampage, some protesters and residents were shot.
While seeing the rampage start increased, the Rev. Simet Yikwa mobilised the officials of Wesaroma Baptist Church to evacuate the migrants. Most of them are the owners of shops, repair shops or stalls in Homhom and Pikhe streets.
“We picked some of them from their house’s back door. If any shop or house has no back door, we broke into it and took the migrants to Wesaroma Baptist Church. We managed to save about 350 migrants in our church. The reverend Yason Jikwa from Panorama Baptist Church was also able to evacuate around 270 migrants to his church,” said the Rev. Yikwa.
Meanwhile, in Pikhe Sreet, the flame continued to move towards the north, away from the city, destroying rows of shops, stalls, repair shops on the left and rights sides of the street. The arsonists continued to move along as if they followed a group of people carrying the body of Kelion Tabuni across the Pikhe Bridge, towards Pisugi. Black thick smoke arose, visible up to Wamena downtown.
Meanwhile, Junaedi, the Department Head of UP3 PLN Wamena, predicted that the mass rampage had occurred before the riot devastated half of the city of Wamena. He said the voltage-reducing transformer in Homhom Streed had exploded before the regent office caught fire. “It exploded at around 9.30 a.m. After that, the electricity transformer near the regent office exploded,” said Junaedi in Wamena on 4 October 2019.
At the time when the mass riot and burning occurred in Homhom Street, the students of SMA PGRI and other schools were conducting a rally in front of the Jayawijaya regent office. They continued to sit there demanding the police to release their seven friends who arrested in SMA Yapis Wamena.
But, why and how the outrage masses could gather in Homhom Street?
The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) team is still also looking for the answer. The Komnas HAM Chairman Ahmad Taufik Damanik said they are still questioning where did the mob actually come from? It is a big question mark. For that reason, they asked the police to investigate it further. “We already asked the police to find out and trace the allegation of mass mobilisation,” said the human rights commissionaire Damanik in Jayapura on 17 October 2019. (To be continued)
Jubi Journalists Victor Mambor and Islami Adisubrata also contributed into the article writing.
Reporter: Aryo Wisanggeni
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Special report: Risking peace in Wamena (Part 1 of 6)
When a mass riot blasted Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya Regency, Papua on 23 September 2019, it shocked public sentiments, their sense of humanity. Everyone was shocked and mourned to see how the anti-racism protest exploded into a riot killing at least 42 people and destroying half of the biggest town in Papua’s highlands.
At the same time, everyone eagerly wants to share a collective desire for weaving the already-torn-apart of social relationship and heal the sufferings. On the other hand, the government has many things to concern if they want to rebuild a robust peace in society. This feature is the first part of six articles of “Risking peace in Wamena”.
News on racist taunt instantly spread
Mikael Alua drove his motorbike to SMA PGRI Wamena located in Jalan Bhayangkara. On that Monday Morning, 23 September 2019, he must go early to school due to mid-semester exam. But, once he parked his motorbike in front of the school’s gate, Alua were striking.
“I saw broken window glasses of our classroom shattered everywhere. Soon, the School Principal Herry Max Kasiha and I tried to figure out what has had happening to our school. Our school neighbour told us that a group of people came to our school at around 2 a.m. These people destroyed all window glasses in classrooms and school office,” said Mikael Alua in Wamena on Friday (4/10/2019).
But then, he could no longer find out the group’s motive by doing such a crime against his school. Once other teachers and students arrived at school, he was too busy preparing the flag-raising ceremony.
Then suddenly, a group of students shouted out, calling their friends to leave the mid-semester exam. They protested against a substitute teacher who allegedly insulted a student of Grade 11 from Class IPS 2 by calling him ‘monkey’ during the economics lesson on Wednesday, 18 September 2019.
The teacher, named RTS, has just been teaching for a week in SMA PGRI. She was appointed by the Papua Education Office to teach economics replacing Elfrida Panjaitan who are attending the certification training for teachers in Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan. While teaching, she then had a dispute with a student in her class. The student named APB accused her of insulting him by calling him ‘monkey’.
Following the call on strike, on that Monday morning, the students of SMA PGRI asked the School Principal Herry Max Kasiha to follow up the racist taunt by RTS to court. Therefore, according to Mikael Alua, the principal tried to calm the students by explaining the vice-principal Debora Agapa has settled this case on Saturday, 21 September 2019.
Regarding the case, Debora Agapa also recounted the allegedly racist incident at school to the Papua Police Chief Paulus Waterpauw.
“We were confused. Nothing had happened three days ago. [Allegedly racist taunt] It happened on Wednesday. Nothing had been happening on Thursday, as well as on Friday. But then, on Saturday, the students were making noise problematising it. We are the teachers just found out this incident on that day, Saturday, 21 September 2019, when the students crowdedly protested on it. By that day, we tried to reconcile both the teacher RTS and student APB,” said Debora Agapa during Waterpauw’s visit to SMA PGRI Wamena on 7 October 2019.
Mikael Alua admitted that on that Monday morning, the teachers were overwhelmed to calm down their students.
“When we were trying to calm down our students, suddenly a group of students from other schools came and talked about the same racism issue. I don’t know them. Meanwhile, our students keep insisting on suing RTS. It seems that the news of reconciliation attempt by the school authority has spread out to the public on Sunday,” Alua guessed.
However, he said he felt a little relieved at that moment when seeing some police officers came to school. The officers tried to talk with students who still insisted saying that RTS should take to the police.
“The police agreed on the students’ demand. They then said only the students from IPS 2 could go to the Police Station. But all the students said they all must go,” said Mikael Alua.
So, all students of SMA PGRI Wamena and some students from other schools finally walked towards Jawijaya Police Headquarters through Jalan Bhayangkara. Meanwhile, Mikael Alua, the School Principal Herry Max Kasiha and two other teachers rode their motorbike and arrived at the police station before the students.
“In the police station, we were brought to the intelligence room. When we entered the room, RTS was already there. So we were waiting for the students to come. But they would never have arrived at the police Jayawijaya,” said Mikael Alua.
The students contingent of SMA PGRI never arrived at the Police Headquarters. They walked on Jalan Bhayangkara, had a chance to visit SMA YPK Betlehem Wamena to invite the students there joining their crowd. At the intersection of Jalan Bhayangkara and Jalan Sudirman, the group divided.
To reach the Jayawijaya Police Headquarters, they should walk through until the eastern passing Jalan Bhayangkara. But, some students turned left to visit SMA Negeri 1 Wamena. Meanwhile, the others turned right towards Jalan Yos Sudarso towards the Jayawijaya Regent Office and SMA Yapis Wamena.
The School Principal of SMA Negeri 1 Wamena Yosep Wibisono recounted that the students’ mob were anarchist while entering his school. The crowd threw stones over the window glasses and called students from SMA Negeri 1 to join the protest against racism.
“Everything happened so quickly. The teachers were teaching in the classrooms. They were fear but could not do anything about it. The mob ruined the teacher’s office, threw out over the window glasses. I could only hide in my office,” told Yosep on 7 October 2019.
The student mob were also doing anarchist while visiting SMA Yapis Wamena to ask the students from that school to join their protest. The students of SMAP Yapis initially refused their call, and it triggered a clash among those students. Wamena residents firstly thought there was a clash among school students. Following this clash, the police arrested seven students who came to SMA Yapis Wamena.
Having additional supporters from some schools from the city centre of Wamena, the students’ mob came to the Jayawijaya Regent Office. A reporter from TVRI in Wamena, Naftali Pawika who was at the regent office that morning told the students’ crowd arrived at 8 a.m.
“The regent John Richard Banua has not yet come to the office. The students occupied the lawn of the Jayawijaya Regent Office. Although they were threatening some journalists to not taking photographs, they were not violent. Some of them indeed held a wooden stick they collected from the street, but I didn’t see they brought stones or fuel. They just sat down, awaited,” said Naftali Pawika. (To be continued)
Jubi Journalists, Victor Mambor and Islami Adisubrata, also contributed into the article writing.
Reporter: Aryo Wisanggeni
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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