Kukuh S. Wibowo, Jakarta – Public defender of the Surabaya Legal Aid (LBH), Sahura, said that the situation around the Papuan students' dormitory at Kalasan Street in Surabaya is gradually turning conducive after 43 college students from Papua on Friday were involved in a clash with local groups of people over a flag incident.
Surabaya Police temporarily apprehended and detained the groups of Papuan students on Friday after they were reported to the police by a mass-organization for alleged flag mistreatment by the students ahead of the country's Independence Day on Saturday, August 17. Reports suggested that the students allegedly threw the national flag to the ground.
According to Sahura, there were no reports of clashes in the vicinity of the dormitory. "It's safe for the meantime. The Papuan students were inside the dormitory," he said.
The Surabaya Legal Aid focused on five elements they deemed should have been handled better during Friday's clash between Papuan students, local mass-organizations, and local authorities. The LBH firstly viewed police failed to provide safety and saw it as a reason for the mass-organization to persecute the students.
They also highlighted the handling of Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) soldiers in incidents involving Papuan students in Surabaya, which Sahura sees as an abuse of power. He said the flag desecration should be handled accordingly to the existing law that oversees the matter and should not have been handled by shooting tear gas into the dormitory prior to temporary detaining the students.
The LBH also condemned the mass-organizations that persecuted the Papuans and urged the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to conduct an investigation on the possible violations by police and military members.