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Peaceful demonstration led by Papua Bali student community met with police repression in Denpasar

Human Rights Monitor - June 13, 2024

On 10 June 2024, the Papua Bali Student Community Student Association, in collaboration with IMMAPPA Bali and AMP KK Bali, organised a peaceful demonstration in Denpasar to support the indigenous Awyu and Moi tribes in their struggle to protect their customary lands and forests. The event was marked by a series of significant confrontations with local police forces.

At 09:30, demonstrators gathered at the East Renon Parking Gathering Point. The coordination team, led by the "Korlap," organized the protesters into a neat formation, displaying banners and posters advocating for indigenous rights.

Confrontation with police and arrested

Shortly after, the group proceeded towards the Renon roundabout, a location strategically chosen for its visibility, being in front of the US Consulate. However, the procession was halted en route by a heavy police presence, with around 200 officers, 2 Dalmas cars, and 1 command car forming a blockade. The police cited the presence of a counter-demonstration by the PGN mass organization as the reason for the obstruction.

For almost four hours, the demonstrators maintained their position, engaging in political speeches and poetry readings. Despite their peaceful stance, the police refused to allow them to move to the designated action point.

Tensions escalated when the Korlap decided to lead the protesters through the police barricade towards the police station. The police responded with force, using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Several demonstrators were beaten and kicked while in handcuffs and transported to Renon Police Station. Among the injured were individuals identified by their initials: HM, SG, MA, LM, and IK.

Additionally, four protesters and one member of LBH Bali, an allied legal aid organisation, were forcibly handcuffed and taken into custody. The individuals taken to the police station were identified as AM, MK, MA, HM, and one unnamed friend from LBH Bali.

Approximately 40 minutes later, a group of protesters arrived at the Renon police station to demand the release of their detained colleagues. Following pressure from the demonstrators, the police released all detainees. The group then reconvened at the Putra Papua rented house, where they read a formal statement of attitude.

Statement by Papuan the Community and Student Association (IMMAPA) Bali and Bali City Committee

On 11 June 2024 the Papuan Community and Student Association (IMMAPA) Bali and Bali City Committee issued a statement of attitude containing the following main issues and demands:

Revoke Company Licenses:

Urges President Joko Widodo and the Supreme Court to revoke licenses of companies operating on Awyu and Moi tribal lands.

Protection of Customary Lands:

Emphasizes the need to save the forests of the Awyu and Moi tribes from the encroachment of palm oil companies.

Highlights lawsuits filed by the tribes against government-issued permits to companies like PT Indo Asiana Lestari (IAL), PT Kartika Cipta Pratama, PT Megakarya Jaya Raya, and PT Sorong Agro Sawitindo (SAS).

Environmental and Cultural Impact:

Points out that the activities of these companies threaten the indigenous forests, which are vital for the tribes' livelihood, culture, and biodiversity.

Notes the potential release of 25 million tons of CO2e due to deforestation, exacerbating the climate crisis.

Legal Battles and Government Inaction:

Details the complicated legal journey of the Awyu and Moi tribes, including lawsuits that have been dismissed or are pending in higher courts.

Calls for the Supreme Court to issue a ruling that favors environmental protection and indigenous rights.

Broader Context of Exploitation and Rights Violations:

Describes other instances of land grabbing, illegal operations, and environmental destruction across Papua, including:

  • The MIFEE project in Merauke.
  • Petroleum exploration in Timika Agimuga.
  • Illegal gold mining in Deiyai and Yalimo.
  • The construction of government and military facilities on customary lands without consent.

Human Rights Concerns:

  • Highlights ongoing human rights abuses, including criminalization, intimidation, and violence against indigenous people.
  • Mentions specific cases of police and military repression, such as the shooting of civilians in Yahukimo and large-scale evacuations due to conflicts.

Specific Demands:

  • Calls for the Supreme Court to prioritize environmental and climate justice.
  • Demands the revocation of all permits in Awyu and Moi lands.
  • Urges the Indonesian government to stop criminalizing indigenous peoples and to withdraw military forces from Papua.
  • Appeals for public support for the Awyu and Moi tribes' struggle and for the preservation of Papuan forests.
  • Requests open access for national and international journalists to West Papua.
  • Advocates for the right to self-determination for the West Papuan nation as a democratic solution.

The statement underscores the urgent need for legal and governmental action to protect the rights and lands of the Awyu and Moi tribes. It highlights the broader issue of environmental and human rights abuses in Papua and calls for solidarity and support from the public and international community to address these injustices. The statement portrays the struggle of the indigenous tribes as a crucial effort not only for their survival but for the broader fight against climate change and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Source: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/case/peaceful-demonstration-led-by-papua-bali-student-community-met-with-police-repression-in-denpasar-five-arrested-and-at-least-five-injured