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
Docking their yachts at Jayapura Seaport, foreigners scrutinised by local immigration office
Jayapura, Jubi – Jayapura Immigration, Seaport Health Quarantine Office, Maritime and Port Authority secured and interrogated four foreign citizens on Wednesday (18/3/2020) following their act sailing to Jayapura sea and docking private yachts at Jayapura Seaport.
The Head of Jayapura Immigration Gatut Setiawan states the four foreigners arrived in Jayapura by two different yachts. The Singaporean Wong Tet Chong took Ximula-3 Langkawi, while Bruno Coolmet of France came to Jayapura with his wife and future son-in-law by Krypton.
“The four sailed from Sorong, West Papua Province and got clearance from Sorong Immigration. But, as soon they arrived in Jayapura, they were going to the downtown without reporting their arriving to the quarantine office and seaport authority,” said Gatut in Jayapura on Wednesday (18/3/2020).
In his statement, Gatut said Wong Tet Chong initially wanted to sail his yacht to Papua New Guinea but change the destination to Jayapura due to bad weather and engine problem. Besides, the authority of Papua New Guinea has currently closed access to the country.
“The immigration, quarantine office and seaport authority has interrogated (him) and conducted the thermal check as a procedure of coronavirus anticipation. His body temperature was normal, so we gave him two days to leave the Jayapura water. If he is still around [more than two days], the seaport authority will forcibly pull out his yacht out of Indonesia,” said Gatut.
Meanwhile, Gatut said the immigration did not found any immigration violations conducted by Bruno Coolmet, his wife and their future son-in-law because they have a legal permit to stay until 1 April 2020.
“Although they did not break the immigration rule, they should deal with both quarantine office and seaport authority because [docked and left their yacht at the seaport] without reporting. In the future, we will be more restricted to protect the security of the sea from invasion by foreigners or others by involving the quarantine office, seaport authority and other relevant offices,” said Gatut.
After completing their administrative issue with the quarantine office, the three French national should leave the Jayapura Sea. “The immigration is keeping their documents as a guarantee,” he said.
Earlier, Deputy Governor of Papua Province Klemen Tinal asked the Immigration, Seaport Quarantine Office and other relevant offices to restrict the surveillance over passengers at airports, seaports and other entries to anticipate the spreading of coronavirus to Papua.
“Restriction and inspection should be done more strictly to both foreign and domestic passengers coming to Papua,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Alexander Loen
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Goliat Tabuni asks independent team to investigate the church burning in Tembagapura
Jayapura, Jubi – West Papua Liberation Army (TPNPB) challenge the Government of Indonesia to provide access for an independent investigation team investigating perpetrators behind the burning of a church in Tembagapura Sub-district, Mimika Regency, Papua in a press released by TPNPB. The statement of the Supreme Commander of TPNTP General Goliat Tabuni received by Jubi on Wednesday (18/3/2020).
On Thursday (12/3/2020), the Indonesian Gospel Tent (GKII) Church of Sinai Congregation in Opitawak Village of Tembagapura Sub-district reportedly burned out. The Indonesian security forces pointed finger to TPNPB as perpetrators. However, General Goliat Tabuni denied all allegations in his press release.
In turn, he believes this incident was part of the game playing by the Indonesian security forces to discredit the image of TPNPB in which they have always done for a long time. “This is not new, but [it has happened] since 1960 to the present. The Indonesian Military and Police have done it for a long time,” said Tabuni in his press release.
Furthermore, Tabuni said TPNTP was not surprised by many reports accused them as the perpetrator behind the church burning. Therefore, he challenges the Indonesian Government to provide access to an independent investigation team to investigate.
Meanwhile, TPNPB spokesperson Sebby Sambon confirms the statement released on behalf of Goliat Tabuni as valid. Further, he says the independent investigation team preferred by TPNPB is a joint investigation team of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council and the National Human Rights Commission of Papua Office.
“If they want to find who is behind the church burning, the Indonesian Government must allow the independent team to investigate. [The independent team is] the Human Rights Council [United Nations] and the National Human Rights Commission of Papua Office,” Sambom told Jubi on Wednesday (18/3/2020).
Furthermore, he said the Indonesian Government should be able to prove their accusation through a fair and impartial legal process, not only pointing fingers to TPNPB. “The Indonesian Military and Police should not just accuse TPNPB, and the Indonesian media should not unilaterally publish the one-side story,” said Sambom.
Meanwhile, Antara News Agency launched the statement of Tembagapura Police Chief Adjunct Commissionaire Hermanto saying the insurgent group led by Lekagak Telenggen and Joni Botak burned down the GKII Sinai Congregation Church in Opitawak Village.
“The church was initially crowded by Opitawak villagers for worshipping and other church activities. However, in several recent weeks, the armed group came to spread terror in this village. People finally have to give in to this situation,” said Hermanto to Antara. (*)
Reporter: Benny Mawel
Editor: Pipit Maizier
80 candles lit to commemorate one-year of Sentani flash flood
Sentani, Jubi – Flash food that hit Sentani on 16 March 2019 is still kept strictly in the memory of those who experienced it. Even today, after one year of the disaster, many people are still living in refugee camps. To commemorate one year of the incident, young people and the Baptist Sunday School of Imanuel Toladan Church organise worship and several activities to pray for their family members who passed away in this natural disaster.
“We have not prepared this event for a long time, but we think this is what we can do. We want to remember the incident where all Sunday School’s students were gathering in the ‘island’ for worshipping then suddenly the flash flood came,” says Jenny Marlin Wenda, the GBIT Sunday School Principal, to Jubi on Monday evening (16/3/2020).
Furthermore, she adds that there is nothing more valuable than being grateful to God.
“So, here we are today. Mr Jeff Ron comes to give us a preach and motivate those who attend the worship today. Before praying, we lit 80 candles that provided by our school, then watch movies while gathering for coffee in the churchyard,” she says.
Besides youth and Baptist congregations, this event also involves nearby neighbours.
“We also thank those who participated to join the event and pray with us. We meet with families of victims who join and bring some food for all of us to enjoy. They feel this worship is important to them, so they come to join,” she says.
Moreover, she says no one ever thinks that they would survive in flah flood.
“When remembering that experience, I am sad because it caused 114 death, 205 missing and 961 injured, while approximately 11,725 are currently living in refugee camps. “
Meanwhile, Jeff Ron Sohilait in his preach says in difficult time humans might not think that they will survive during a flash flood, but nothing is impossible for God. God opened the way for us when we were at the island at the time.
“At that night, God opened us the way. He brought us out of place at that time. It means He has a certain purpose for the children of Sunday School in this world,” he says.
“On Saturday evening one year ago, these children went to the worship, and because of their prayer, God came to save them. This is a great testimony where God came to them in the sudden episode and guided them to the safe place,” says Jeff Ron. (*)
Reporter: Yance Wenda
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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