Jayapura, Jubi – Activists of the Papuan People's Petition (PRP) on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, distributed leaflets inviting people to join the protests on July 29 against Papua expansion and special autonomy.
They gave the leaflets in three locations, namely the Waena taxi round, the fork in SPG Waena Street, and at the Old Terminal Expo Waena. However, they were dispersed by a number of police officers who confiscated their leaflets.
PRP spokesman Jefri Wenda said the police did so because they thought the distribution of leaflets had provoked the community to engage in demonstrations. Wenda regretted the police action because the PRP had followed the procedure as regulated by Law No. 9/1998 on Freedom to Express Opinions in Public.
"We have written to the police regarding the action plan. If the police later said there was no permit for distributing the leaflets, the police were mistaken, this is part of the notice we submitted," Wenda told Jubi on Tuesday.
Wenda reminded the police that the law had guaranteed the right of every citizen to express opinions in public and the police did not have the authority to permit or prohibit protests.
After what happened on Tuesday, Wenda suspected that the rally on July 29 would again be hindered by the police. "The police have destroyed democratic values. Even worse, the police have silenced the democratic space for the Papuan people members of the PRP," he said.
Even so, PRP Coordinator Warpo Wetipo asked people who want to take to the streets not to be afraid. He emphasized that the Papuan people would continue to carry out peaceful actions to reject the Special Autonomy for Papua and the formation of three new provinces resulting from the Papua expansion. "We will continue to convey our aspirations to the Papuan Legislative Council. We will be marching. Therefore, we invite all people to participate and support the cause," he said.
Wetipo said that silenced democratic space is not new for Papuan people. "The disbandment of the protest, the beating of the mass, the blocking of the rally, even the shooting of Papuans are all nothing new for the Papuan people who continue to fight against the colonial state of Indonesia," he said.
He expressed his disappointment that the police did not understand the law and the context of democracy. "They are dangerous for a pro-democracy society. They must be given special political education in order to understand the law," said Wetipo.