Yuliana Lantipo, Jayapura, Jubi – Two participants of the protest rejecting Papua Province's expansion in Yahukimo Regency's capital of Dekai, Yakob Meklok and Esron Weispa, became victims of alleged police brutality and died on Tuesday, March 15, 2022.
The bodies were buried by the side of the main road in Dekai as a symbol of public resistance to the central government's special autonomy and expansion plan for Papua.
Tribal chief of the Meek Tribe Mathias Suu said the victim's family agreed to bury the deceased at that location, not far from the Meek Tribe's settlement.
"The family asked for a grave on the side of the main road to becoming a resistance symbol in rejecting the Papua Special Autonomy offered by the central government and regional expansion plan. So that everyone passing by can see the grave of the people murdered for refusing the State's agenda," Mathias Suu told Jubi on Wednesday.
Suu said the funeral of Yakob Meklok and Esron Weipsa was held on Wednesday at around 14.30 p.m. local time. According to him, thousands of residents from 12 tribes in Yahukimo Regency attended the funeral.
Previously on Tuesday, a protest erupted in Dekai against the Papua regional expansion plan. The protest went peaceful at first, the protesters took turns expressing their hope to reject the government's plan to form new autonomous regions or new provinces in Papua. They even negotiated with the police, asking the police to send members of the Yahukimo Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) to hear them out.
However, a number of sources contacted by Jubi said clashes between protesters and security forces occurred after a police officer took pictures of the protesters. The protest escalated into an argument between both parties before people started throwing stones. The police fired tear gas, throwing the crowd into chaos. Just then, gunshots were heard.
The Papua Police confirmed two residents died in the clashes, namely Yakob Meklok and Erson Wipsa. Yakob Meklok died from a gunshot wound under his right armpit. Meanwhile, Erson Wipsa died from a gunshot wound to his back. There were also three people injured in the incident, namely First Brig. Muhammad Aldi (wound to the head), Itos Hitlay (gunshot wound to the left thigh), and Luki Kobak (gunshot wound to the right thigh). The incident sparked a mass rage wherein the people burned down a number of shophouses and government offices in Dekai.
Yahukimo Regent Didimus Yahuli said his party would push for legal proceedings against the parties involved in the clashes on Tuesday. "We must hold accountable the perpetrators who killed two people and burned public facilities," said Yahuli.