Responding to the arrests of hundreds of Papuan students and other peaceful pro-independence activists across the country, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:
“This is a clear and shocking violation of Papuans’ human rights to freedom of expression and assembly. These people did nothing but peacefully attend public events.
“These arbitrary arrests add to the long list of acts of harassment, intimidation and arrests faced by Papuans this year, not to mention the attacks they faced from hostile groups at yesterday’s rallies. The police must bring to justice the attackers and should not be arresting peaceful Papuans – it should instead respect and protect their right to come together in peace and say what they think, in a safe environment.”
“The police must immediately and unconditionally release the hundreds of Papuan students and political activists arrested while peacefully attending rallies across the country.”
Amnesty International Indonesia is aware of 537 people arrested at rallies on 1 December 2018. Many Papuans consider 1 December 1961 as the date on which they should have received independence, and take to the street every year to commemorate it.
According to a lawyer acting for some of these peaceful students and activists, police made these arrests in rallies taking place in Kupang (in East Nusa Tenggara), Ternate (in Maluku), Manado (in North Sulawesi), Makassar (in South Sulawesi), Jayapura, Asmat and Waropen (in Papua) and Surabaya (in East Java). In Surabaya, a group of people joining a counter rally threw stones at the crowd of around 300 Papuan protesters, injuring 16 people.