Hengky Yeimo, Jayapura, Jubi – Chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Agus Kosay denied the Papua Police's accusation that the KNPB was involved in a protest rejecting the expansion of Papua Province which took place in Dekai, Yahukimo Regency, on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.
Kosay said the KNPB had never mobilized the Yahukimo residents to rally against the Papua expansion plan. "A protest occurred in Yahukimo Regency and claimed two lives. The police suspected the KNPB was behind this. We absolutely denied such allegations. We are not at all involved [in any protests against the division of the province]," said Kosay on Wednesday.
Kosay said the protest was purely conducted by the people who did not agree with the government's plan to divide Papua into new regions. Residents of Jayapura, Nabire, Manokwari, Sorong, and Paniai have taken similar actions.
"The people took to the street because of their conscience. The expansion plan does not sit right with them, Papua currently does not need a new province. [The expansion] will only bring its own problems, so people protest based on this concern," he said.
The protest on Tuesday which started out peaceful turned violent and resulted in two participants, Yakob Meklok and Esron Weipsa, dying from gunshot wounds. Kosay asked the police to be responsible for the deaths of the two victims.
"The death of the two protesters was purely caused by the error of the security forces in handling the protest in Yahukimo Regency. We ask the Yahukimo Police Chief, Yahukimo Regent, and the central government to take responsibility," said Kosay.
Previously on Tuesday, Papua Police Chief Insp. Gen. Mathius D Fakhiri said there was a suspicion that the protest on March 15 was mobilized by a certain group. He said the allegation was based on reports that there were a number of people wearing uniforms.
Fakhiri said his party would investigate the matter. However, he also said that his party had confirmed to several KNPB seniors that it was them wearing uniforms.
Police repeatedly accuse KNPB
KNPB National Spokesperson Ones Suhuniap said the Papua Police and West Papua Police had repeatedly accused the KNPB of various cases of violence in Papua. According to Suhuniap, the police made various accusations without any evidence, and in the end, they were never proven.
"Since 2009 until now, the KNPB has always been accused of being the perpetrators of several cases [of violence] in Papua, but the police have only assumed. The Papua Police should have investigated thoroughly and brought the perpetrators to court to give the victims a sense of justice," he said.
Suhuniap mentioned the police allegation that the KNPB was involved in the attack on the Kisor Military Post in Maybrat Regency, West Papua, on September 2, 2021.
"Then [the police accused] KNPB of preparing an action to thwart the National Games or PON XX Papua. And many more. All of these assumptions and accusations have not been legally proven," said Suhuniap.
Suhuniap further asked the Papua Police and West Papua Police to stop accusing KNPB and start working professionally. He also asked the police to reflect on the various human rights violation that occurred in Papua.
"Who has a gun? Who kills whom? Because KNPB does not have weapons. KNPB always supports peaceful struggle. During the protest in Yahukimo, it was the security officers who forced the mass to disperse, as well as firing shots," said Ones Suhuniap.