Charles Maniani, Jayapura – On Wednesday August 19, officers from the Abepura sectoral police (Polsek) forcibly broke up a Papuan People's Solidarity action collecting funds to provide financial assistance to exiled Papua activist and human rights lawyer Veronica Koman.
"Our action was broken up by police", said Yops Itlay, one of the participants at the action as quoted by Jubi.co.id.
Itlay said that police broke up the action – which was held at the Abepura and Kamkey-Tanah Hitam traffic lights in Jayapura city – without explanation. In accordance with procedures, they had already submitted a written notification of the action with police.
"We asked what the reason was, but they (the police) didn't reply and just broke it up. Our notification was delivered to the Polsek Abe, but they said to take it to Polresta [the municipal police], but it looked like this was just a pretext because up until now we've held protest actions without prior notification", he said.
When sought for confirmation, Markus Haluk, the coordinator of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua office, said that the Indonesian government and the police have run out of arguments in the face of solidarity actions which continue to be held in Papua.
"Indonesia has lost its common sense. The security forces continue to be repressive, continue to silence the reality in Papua", he told Jubi.
The fundraising actions, which were held at traffic light intersections at two locations, were done on the group's own initiative to assist Sister Veronica Koman. A similar fundraiser was held at an "Ebamukai" donation post in Nabire (a traditional way of collecting money).
In a video lasting 13 seconds which was taken by one of the protesters, a plain clothed officer can be seen tearing up a cartoon being used at the donation post.
The forced dispersal of the protesters was led directly by Abepura sectoral police Chief Deputy Police Commissioner Gerald Philipus Duwith, who could be seen arguing with the protesters.
Meanwhile banners displayed by the protester carried the message "Papuan People with Veronica Koman".
A Papuan people's solidarity action for Veronica Koman was also held in Nabire although this to was forcibly broken up by the Nabire municipal police.
As of posting this article, there has yet to be a confirmation from Abepura police on the incident.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polisi Bubarkan Aksi Galang Dana Dukung Veronica Koman".]