Jakarta – Police arrested a total of 90 Papuan students during a protest action which ended in chaos near the Presidential Palace complex in Central Jakarta on Friday March 11. As has been reported, the demonstration by the Papuan students was to oppose the creation of new provinces in Papua.
"A total of 90 people", said Metro Jaya regional police public relations division head Senior Commissioner E Zulpan when sought for confirmation on Friday.
After being arrested, the students were taken to the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters. Zulpan said that they will be returned home after being questioned. "They will be returned home after being identified and questioned", said Zulpan.
The protest which ended in chaos resulted in Central Jakarta district police intelligence unit head Assistant Superintendent Ferikson Tampubolon suffering head injuries after being assaulted by the protesters. In addition to this, a number of other police officers were injured.
The demonstrators meanwhile claimed that five protesters suffered injuries during the clash with police. One of them, a women, was even knocked unconscious.
Zulpan however has denied that police assaulted any of the demonstrators. "There were no police officers who assaulted the demonstrators", said Zulpan.
Police must be held accountable
The Papua Advocacy Team meanwhile has called on the Metro Jaya police chief to punish the police officers who allegedly committed violence against six Papuans during the rally near the Presidential Palace.
One of the Advocacy Team members, Teo Reffelsen, said that if the acts of violence by police were based on an order from a superior officer, then they must also be held responsible.
"Police must legally process police officers who committed the violence against the six Papuans", said Reffelsen in a written release sent to CNN Indonesia on Friday.
"If it was based on an order, then their senior officer must also be held criminally responsible", he said.
Reffelsen also said that based on information obtained from the participants in the action, one of the six students, Ince, was kicked in the chest by a police officer and fell unconscious.
Another, Bob, suffered scratches to his leg and chest after being kicked. Samuel Purwaro was kicked and dragged into a detention vehicle and suffered injuries to his right eye, and Deris Murib was kicked in the forehead and back of his body.
Daten meanwhile was struck in the head using a motorcycle helmet and a member of Solidarity Indonesia was kicked by police.
"He suffered injuries to his body and cracked teeth. His genitals were grabbed, then his mobile phone. [But] his mobile phone has been returned", said Reffelsen.
The Papuan students clashed with police near the Presidential Palace when they wanted to move off to the Home Affairs Ministry to protest against the creation of new provinces in Papua.
Around 30 people claiming to be Papuan students tried to head off to the nearby Home Affairs Ministry on Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara via Jalan Veteran near the State Secretariat building in the presidential complex.
There, scores of police officers had already prepared a blockade and the demonstrators were prohibited from going any further. Tough negotiations between the two parities proceeded for up to 30 minutes.
The police continued to refuse to let the demonstrators pass and the two sides began pushing and shoving each other. A short time later the situation between the two parties became chaotic after the demonstrators broke through the blockade.
Police then chased the students down and succeeded in breaking up the demonstration. Several were involved in fist fights. (dis, iam/kid)
A second article by CNN Indonesia later on the same day reported that 89 of those arrested had been returned home. "Yes, they've been sent home", said Zulpan when sought for confirmation on Friday. Zulpan said however that one person named Alfius Wenda was still being questioned in relation to the assault on Assistant Superintendent Ferikson Tampubolon.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Demo Papua Berujung Ricuh di Dekat Istana, Total 90 Orang Ditangkap".]