Benny Mawel, Jayapura – Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) lawyer, Michael Himan, said the National Police chief Gen. Listyo Prabowo must fire Malang Police chief Sr. Come. Leonardus Simarmata after the latter reportedly threatened to shoot Papuan students on March 8, 2021.
Students from AMP rallied on Monday to celebrate International Women's Day. They also brought posters to reject special autonomy status in Papua and posters on free Papua, the police told local media in Malang, East Java
A 23 seconds video taken by AMP has been circulating in social media, containing a record in which a voice, reportedly of Simarmata, told protesters outside the fence in the Malang Police precinct that if they dared to trespass the fence, "their blood will be halal. Shoot!". The phrase "the blood is halal" means it is ok to shoot and spill blood.
Himan said Simarmata's statement could create a negative ripple effect. He said any repressive action against Papuan students in places outside Papua could trigger anger in Papua. He said the Malang Police chief should have acted within the legal corridor. Threats to use firearms against civilians who were staging a peaceful rally is violating the principles of human rights.
Freedom of expression, he said, was guaranteed by Indonesian Constitution.
"We deem that the threats to shoot the student protesters have disturbed our sense of security. It also violates article 30 on human rights law on protection from threats to do or not do something," Himan went on.
The reports in Malang media outlets said the rally ended with an altercation between protesters and the police when the police tried to arrest the protesters. Simarmata was quoted as saying that "Papuan students piggybacked the women's day theme for Papuan issues". He called it a "liar agenda".
The students were told to get on the police truck to get arrested but some refused and broke the truck's windows, the reports said.
Later, others protested at the Malang Police to demand the release of their friends. The short video allegedly contains Simarmata's voice saying "Shoot!" was from the protest in the evening after the International Women's Day.
Himan called on the National Police to remove Simarmata from the post.
Fhen Suhuniap, the secretary of AMP in Malang, confirmed that the video recorded an event when Simarmata threatened to shoot them. It happened at 8 pm local time in front of the Malang Police, where 15 students came to demand the release of their friend.
"At that time, 17 students were released already but one friend was detained. So 15 friends came in solidarity to demand our friend to be released," said Suhuniap.
However, the police officers guarding the precinct that night prohibited the students from entering the precinct, blocking them with the iron gate. But the students insisted the police let them in, so the police chief was angry and threatened to shoot them.
"The Malang Police chief, Leonardus Simarmata, came to meet us and he said our blood was halal, if you step into the precinct, we will shoot! He repeated the statement three times," said Suhuniap.
Secretary General of Association of Papuan Students from the Middle Mountains, Ambrosius Mulait, said native Papuans' freedom of expression had always been silenced during the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration. Protests and rallies done by Papuan students always ended up with arrest or beatings.
The police also often used Covid-19 to prohibit Papuan students from gathering. "It's strange. Jokowi can invite a crowd to distribute food. Moeldoko could attend the Extraordinary Congress of Democratic Party without adhering to health protocol. So why are rallies dispersed using the Covid-19 as the reason?" he said.
He referred to an event in which Jokowi came to East Nusa Tenggara and created a large crowd that failed to keep their distance from each other. Jokowi was distributing food and greeted the people. He gestured to the people to wear face masks, but he did not tell the people to keep a distance from each other. The protocol was to keep a distance of 1.5 meters at the minimum.
Another event that drew criticism was the congress in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra, in which presidential chief of staff Moeldoko was declared as the chief of Democratic Party, in an attempt to take over the leadership from Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the current party chief.
Earlier, Jayapura Police dispersed three Women's Day rally in Jayapura on March 8, arresting nine protesters. They were released on the same day. The police said the reason for the arrest was Covid-19.
On March 9, 2021, the Jakarta Police summoned Nining Elitos, the head of the Congress of Worker Unions Alliance (KASBI), for questioning on March 15 for holding a rally on March 8. The police accused the protesters of violating the health protocol.
Jubi tried to contact Simarmata by phone to seek confirmation, but Jubi could not reach him for comments up until Friday when the story was published.On Tuesday, CNN Indonesia quoted East Java Police spokesperson, Sr. Come. Gatot Repli Handoko who said that the video was cut and circulated not in its entirety to steer an out-of-context interpretation.
He said the students were threatening to force entry to the Malang Police.