Sorong Maichel (contributor), Sorong – Police were forced to break up a demonstration opposing the creation of new autonomous regions (DOB) in Papua which was held at the Sorong city Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) office in Sorong, West Papua, on Friday afternoon, June 3.
Initially, the demonstrators asked DPRD Speaker Petronela Kambuaya to meet with them but there was no response to the request. The demonstrators then became angry and set fire to used tyres on the grounds of the DPRD. As a result police broke up the rally using teargas.
Sorong district police operations division head Police Commander Moch Nur Makmur said that the actions taken to secure the demonstration were in accordance with procedures.
"We had already appealed to the korlap [field coordinator] saying that if there were fires we would break up [the rally], but they (the protesters) started it all so we took firm action and broke it up", said Makmur on Friday.
Makmur related how after failing to meet with the Sorong DPRD speaker the demonstrators asked for negotiations to meet with a representative of the DPRD. Once again however, they were unable to meet with them.
Earlier, demonstrations against the creation of new autonomous regions in Papua were held simultaneously in several different parts of Papua and West Papua provinces.
Greater Sorong Papua People's Petition (PRP) spokesperson Raya Deky Pagawak said that they reject the law on the creation of new regions which is currently be deliberated on by the House of Representatives (DPR).
"There were three demands conveyed by the protesters, namely rejecting the formation of new autonomous regions, rejecting special autonomy and asking the government to hold a referendum", said Pagawak.
After the demonstrators were disbanded, police said that the situation was secure and conducive.
Morning Star flag seized
Police also secured a Morning Star independence flag during the Sorong protest. The flag was seized when the demonstrators were holding a long-march from the Remu traffic lights to the Sorong DPRD.
Makmur said that when they saw that there was a person carrying the Morning Star flag they immediately moved in to secure it.
"The flag was removed immediately, officers were quick to seize the flag. Our officers secured material evidence in the form of a flag", said Makmur in an SMS message on Friday.
There has yet to be any further information on who brought the flag to the demonstration.
[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles on June 3 by Kompas.com. The original title of the lead article was "Bakar Ban di DPRD Kota Sorong, Massa Demonstrasi Penolakan DOB Dibubarkan Polisi".]