Police arrest 20 protesters supporting indigenous rights in Papua, sparking criticism

Protesters who were secured at the Merauke Police Station on Saturday (18/11/2023) during a peaceful demonstration in support of the Awyu indigenous people.-Dok AMPERA PS.

Jayapura, Jubi – Several civil coalitions expressed dismay over the apprehension of 20 individuals associated with the South Papua People’s Student Alliance (AMPERA PS) by Merauke Police on November 18, 2023.

The arrests occurred during a peaceful demonstration aimed at extending support to the Awyu indigenous community’s struggle for their ancestral lands against corporate encroachment in the Boven Digoel district.

Ayub Paa, an environmental activist from Greater Sorong, lamented the heavy-handed approach of the police in detaining demonstrators who sought to exercise their freedom of speech supporting Hendrikus Woro’s legal challenge against the Decree issued by the Head of the One-Stop Integrated Investment and Service Office (DPMPTSP) of Papua Province No. 82/2021, pertaining to environmental feasibility permits.

“We deeply regret the disruption of the peaceful protest intended to convey support for Hendrikus Woro. This could potentially lead to Hendrikus Woro’s ancestral lands and forests falling into the hands of a corporation, despite their lack of involvement in relinquishing customary rights or accepting funds for the acquisition of Woro clan’s ancestral lands,” expressed Ayub Paa in a press release received by Jubi on Sunday (11/19/2023).

Tasya Manong, spokesperson for the Alliance of Youth Students Caring for Forests and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (AMPERAMADA) Papua, criticized the security forces for dispersing the protest and detaining individuals.

“Our fellow demonstrators sought a peaceful demonstration, yet they were dispersed and taken into custody at the Merauke Police station. Despite our rights as citizens being safeguarded by the constitution and other legal frameworks, they were subjected to this treatment. Did they cause any disruption? No. This severely undermines democracy and human rights,” said Tasya Manong. (*)

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