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Police disperse Papuans commemorating political rights in Sorong City, use tear gas

Tabloid JUBI - December 5, 2023

Wamena, Jubi – Members of the Papuan People's Alliance in Sorong City, Southwest Papua, organized a rally on December 1, 2023, commemorating the Papuan people's political rights declaration on December 1, 1961. The event took place at Klademak III B or Achmad Yani Street, near Ramayana Mall Sorong City.

According to the chronology provided by the Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua), the rally started peacefully at 10 a.m. Papua time with security forces present. However, at 11:15 a.m., the Sorong City Police attempted negotiations, requesting protesters to voice their opinions until 1 p.m. only, citing an upcoming Santa Claus carnival organized by the Sorong City Government.

Unfortunately, negotiations broke down as the people continued their actions, leading to police dispersing the crowd forcefully with tear gas at 1:10 p.m. Francisco Raymond Mofu from the Sorong Office of LBH Papua confirmed that following the tear gas deployment, there was retaliation from the people who threw objects at the police.

The tear gas affected nearby residents, including children, toddlers, and the elderly in residential areas. By 2 p.m., negotiations ensued between the police, the mass, and affected residents, ultimately resulting in the dispersal of all parties from the rally site.

The LBH Papua expressed its disappointment over the police's handling of the situation, labeling it an abuse of the right to peaceful expression. Emanuel Gobay, Director of the Papua Legal Aid Institute, criticized the use of tear gas in dispersing a peaceful rally. He highlighted the misuse of protocols resulting in injuries to people and the improper use of firearms, which is prohibited under Emergency Law No. 12/1951.

In response to these incidents, LBH Papua urged the National Police to investigate and prosecute those responsible for misusing tear gas guns and violating the rights of peaceful protesters.

Meanwhile, spokesperson of the West Papua Police Sr. Comr. Pol Adam Erwindi clarified that the clash erupted when protesters refused to disperse despite warnings, blocking the road. He stated that security personnel attempted to disperse the crowd, but objects were thrown at them, prompting the use of tear gas at 1:20 p.m. The entire demonstration concluded by 2:20 p.m.

Source: https://en.jubi.id/police-disperse-papuans-commemorating-political-rights-in-sorong-city-use-tear-gas