Jayapura, Jubi – Four Cenderawasih University students who protested against the Papua expansion were beaten by police on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
The four protesters were Welinus Walengga (22) who was hit in the head, Habel Rufus Fauwok, was hit in the waist and right hand, Ebenius Tabuni (20) who was hit in the right shoulder and right hand, and Nias Asso (20) who was hit in the shoulder. Their bodies were now bruised and swollen.
At first, a number of protesters negotiated with the police at the gate of the Cenderawasih University. However, the negotiations failed and the police dispersed the demonstration.
“Your time is up. Disperse them,” the police shouted. Dozens of police officers dispersed the mass, attacked, chased them into the campus, and beat them using rattan and batons. Police also confiscated banners and destroyed the protesters’ megaphones.
Welinus Walengga said that after he got hit, he tried to save himself by running toward the Cenderawasih University’s Students Building. He managed to rejoin other protesters who were being chased by the security forces into the campus. Walengga and his colleagues tried to negotiate with the police again as they did not accept being disbanded, especially since their aspirations had not been conveyed to the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP).
“This is an act of silencing. We haven’t got the chance to talk to the DPRP lawmakers,” said Walengga.
Meanwhile, Operations Control Head of the Jayapura City Police Adj. Comr. Widodo said the police had provided students time to give speeches. However, the police would not allow a long march to the Papuan Legislative Council office. “Because there is already a demonstration happening there. The Police Chief ordered us not to allow any more mass to go there,” said Widodo.
Protest coordinator Kamus Bayage said their protest initially went peaceful and did not block the access road to the campus. However, the police dispersed them with violence. “The police forcibly dispersed the demonstrators then pursued and beat protesters,” Bayage said.
Bayage said this protest was part of a national protest against the new Papua Special Autonomy Law and the formation of three new provinces in Papua. He said that students rejected the policy because they were deemed to exacerbate problems, especially violence against indigenous Papuans.
“With just two provinces, Papua and West Papua, we are already beaten up. Our voices continue to be silenced, there is no room for democracy in Papua. What would happen with the emergence of three new provinces which are not the aspirations of the Papuan people?” he said. (*)