Aditya Mardiastuti, Denpasar – The Papua Student Alliance (AMP) is protesting the arrest of student demonstrators at Renon Park in the Balinese provincial capital of Bali. The AMP said that it was a peaceful action rejecting the April 17 elections and they already had a police permit.
"The APM and the Bali YLBHI-LBH [Legal Aid Foundation] declare that there must be an end to the massive criminalisation of Papuan students. End all forms of violence, intimidation and discrimination against Papuan students in Bali", Bali YLBHI-LBH Deputy Director Ni Putu Candra Dewi told journalists in Denpasar on Monday April 15.
Candra also condemned the seizure of protest materials, violence and intimidated allegedly committed by police against the Papuan students. He also urged Bali Regional Police Chief (Kapolda) Inspector General Reinhard Golose to take legal action against officers alleged to have committed the violence.
"[We are] urging the Bali Kapolda to take legal action (disciplinary and criminal) against police for acting violently against seven of the protesters. [We] urge the government and law enforcement officials to protect freedom of expression, opinion, organisation and association which are a human right belonging to everyone without exception", asserted Candra.
Candra said that the peaceful action campaigning for golput – to abstain from voting – already had a police permit. The AMP had already sent a written notification of the action to the East Denpasar sectoral police (Polsek) on April 11.
Candra said that the peaceful action involving 29 people planned to hold a long-march from the East Renon parking area to the Renon traffic circle. According to the students they were blocked by police before they got to the Renon traffic circle.
"However before the protests reached the Renon traffic circle, the protesters were blocked by armed police officers and a Dalmas [crowd control] truck around 15 metres away. Before the AMP was able to convey its wishes, the police prohibited the peaceful action from being held", he said.
"Moreover seven AMP protesters were assaulted by police and dragged into the Dalmas truck which was already standing by on the grounds that 'today is a cooling off day', and as well as protest materials which were damaged such as posters, banners, a megaphone was also confiscated, an AMP flag was also seized", said Candra.
Candra said that advocates from YLBHI-LBH Bali accompanied the arrested protesters when they were being questioned by police.
The police meanwhile said that the action was broken up because it conflicted with the calls for a peaceful and calm election. The police also said that the banners used by the demonstrators were provocative and moreover, it is currently the cooling off period before the elections take place on April 17.
"The most provocative thing was rejecting the 2019 Pilpres [presidential election]. Yet we have been promoting an anti-golput movement throughout Indonesia, and so forth. So if they turn their back on this it's the same as not supporting government policy. Even though they are aware of this and support [government policy] because they are living in Bali, Bali is part of the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia]. Because as I've said before saying Papua is not part of Indonesia isn't allowed, personally I think it's not quite right", said Denpasar municipal police operations division chief police commander I Nyoman Gatra when sought for confirmation on Monday April 15. (ams/fdn)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Aliansi Mahasiswa Papua dan LBH Bali Protes Polisi Amankan Pendemo".]