INDONESIA: The police in Papua arbitrarily arrest protesters and disperse peaceful demonstrations commemorating the International Day of Democracy


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-123-2013
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of assembly, Freedom of expression,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the dispersal of peaceful demonstrations in Papua to commemorate the International Day of Democracy. Following the dispersal, 71 people participating in the demonstration were arrested and released after being detained for hours in several police stations.


According to a local activist, Yasons Sambom, the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) was planning to conduct simultaneous protests in several parts of Papua on 16 September 2013 to commemorate the International Day of Democracy celebrated on 15 September each year. KNPB notified the Papua Regional Police of the plan a few days prior to the demonstration as required by law. In the local newspaper Cenderawasih Pos issued on 14 September 2013, the police announced that they refused to issue a permit for KNPB to hold demonstrations as requested.

Despite such announcement from the police, KNPB carried out the demonstrations as planned on 16 September 2013. As a result the demonstrations in Sorong and Jayapura were dispersed by the police. It was reported that individuals who were about to participate in the protests were also arrested. A witness who is also an activist of KNPB mentioned that by 7 a.m. on that day the officers from Sentani Sub-District Police had already arrested the individuals who were gathering in two meeting points: one in Sektor Toladan and another in Sentani-Abe. According to him, 9 activists were taken by the police from the meeting point in Sektor Toladan.

At around the same time, arrest of protesters were also taking place on the street of Genyem Sentani. More than 10 protesters were taken to Jayapura Doyo Baru District Police Station and their demonstration equipment was confiscated and kept at Jayapura District Police. Similar incident also took place by the old market in Sentani, Imbi Jayapura Kota, and Perumnas III Waena by Cenderawasih University.

Meanwhile in Sorong, the arrest of protesters started taking place at 9 a.m. on the same day. Twenty five protesters were arrested after displaying a banner which reads ‘Indonesia, open up the space for democracy in Papua. Stop violence’. The arrested protesters were then taken to Sorong Kota Sub-District police station. Seven more protesters were arrested around thirty minutes later, so that the total of individuals arrested by the police due to their involvement in the demonstrations in Jayapura and Sorong reached the number of 71.

The details of the arrests and arrested individuals as well are as follow:


According to Article 10 of Law No. 9 Year 1998 on Freedom to Express Opinion in Public, any individual or group of individuals who wish to conduct a public protest shall notify the police at least 3 days prior to the activity to be conducted. Whereas such article only requires notification to the police, in practice the police often interpret it as a provision which grants them the authority to decide which demonstration can be held and which one not, as happened in this case.

This is not the first time for KNPB to have their peaceful demonstrations arbitrarily dispersed by the authority. The AHRC reported last year, for instance, a protest organised by KNPB in Sentani was forcibly dispersed by the police which resulted in the death of two protesters.

After Papua Regional Police dismissed KNPB’s request for permit to hold demonstrations on International Day of Democracy this year, the spokesperson of Papua Regional Police I Gede Sumerta Jaya told the online media that the reason of dismissal of KNPB’s request to organise the protests on 16 September 2013 was because the organisation has always been ‘disturbing public order’ while conducting demonstration. The police’s spokesperson, however, failed to mention any particular instance and did not take into consideration the fact that the planned demonstrations were to be held peacefully. He later added that the police will forcibly disperse the demonstration ‘particularly if there is any breach to the law such as waving disbanded flag like the Morning Star flag’. Under the current law in Indonesia, waving Morning Star flags is categorised as treason, a crime punishable with maximum sentence of 20 year imprisonment.

The lack of freedom of expression in Papua was deplored by the UN Human Rights Committee during its session on Indonesia in July this year. However, as mentioned in a joint statement by a number of human rights groups, the Indonesian government insisted that ‘freedom of expression is not absolute’ and that they would continue to stop peaceful expressions of political views that aim at the separation of Papua from Indonesia by means of criminal charge.

Please write to the authorities listed below requesting them to halt arbitrary dispersal of peaceful protests in Papua and to stop arresting individuals for expressing their political view. As for this particular case, please call for an independent investigation on the arbitrary action of the police arresting the protesters and dispersing the demonstration. State officials who are responsible for ordering such arbitrary actions should be brought to justice and subjected to adequate punishment.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, requesting for their intervention on this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

INDONESIA: Police in Papua arbitrarily arrest protesters and disperse peaceful demonstrations commemorating the International Day of Democracy

Name of victims:
1. Noldi Hika
2. Oni Tepmul
3. Fiktor Hisage
4. Joniel Mimin
5. Topianus Kulka
6. Matius Kongop
7. Jon Keduman
8. Agus Wepsa
9. Carles Pawika
10. Alen Halitopo
11. Jhon Suhun
12. Maris Tabuni
13. Rudi Wenda
14. Abel Wantik
15. Esau Tabuni
16. Yosua Wenda
17. Marius Wenda
18. Elinus Wenda
19. Esoni Tabuni
20. Erius Wandikbo
21. Yulinus Tabuni
22. Maikel Tabuni
23. Sikolon Tabuni
24. Das Tabuni
25. Orius Tabuni
26. Arius Kombo
27. Yupiter Wandikbo
28. Tina Wenda
29. Kanius Tabuni
30. Agus Kosay
31. Ucak Logo
32. Jon Komba
33. Tony Kobak
34. Jimi Buruai
35. Ogram Wanimbo
36. Nus Wanimbo
37. Oteka Tabuni
38. Regi Wenda
39. Ripka Kobak
40. Nias Wanimbo
41. Kipas Tabuni
42. Soa Mabel
43. Denius Tabuni
44. Mulu Kobak
45. Matinus Yohame
46. Yeskiel Kosay
47. Gusti Prabu
48. Steven Peyon
49. Chairman of PRD Sorong (name is yet to be confirmed)
50. Beni Giban
51. Jekson Manaman
52. Tinus Mabel
53. Marten Wenda
54. Isak Senik
55. Zet Sigap
56. Belkin Heluka
57. Oto Toto
58. Obaya Itlay
59. Ruvia Yewen
60. Yahya Heluka
61. John Wetapo
62. Kelaus Heluka
63. Arnos Kepno
64. Khias Kogoya
65. Oto Mayor
66. Geby Mambrasar
67. Siryani Wanane
68. Natalis Surabut
69. Kantius Heselo
70. Nikson Kabarek
71. Mina Malak

Names of alleged perpetrators: Papua Regional Police, Sentani Sub-District Police, Jayapura Doyo Baru District Police, Abepura Sub-District Police, Jayapura City District Police, Sorong District Police
Date of incident: 16 September 2013
Place of incident: Jayapura and Sorong, Papua

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the dispersal of peaceful protests organised by West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) to commemorate the International Day of Democracy in Jayapura and Sorong, Papua, on 16 September 2013. I have been informed that despite the committee’s compliance with the law by notifying Papua Regional Police on their plan to carry out peaceful demonstrations, the police dispersed the demonstrations and arrested up to 71 individuals who were about to participate in the demonstrations. These 71 people were later released after being detained for several hours in different police stations including Sentani Sub-District Police Station as well Jayapura Doyo Baru District Police Station.

Few days before the protest was to be carried out, the local newspapers Cenderawasih Pos published the police’s statement that they will not issue a permit for KNPB to conduct demonstrations on 16 September 2013. Similarly, the spokesperson of Papua Regional Police I Gede Sumerta Jaya told KBR68H that his institution has dismissed the KNPB’s request for a demonstration permit. According to him, the dismissal was based on the reason that the committee has always ‘disrupted public order’ each time they conducted public protests, without giving any particular instance which could have proved his point. The spokesperson later expressed that the police will not hesitate to disperse the demonstrations, particularly if they involve any illegal activity such as waving the Morning Star flags.

Under the law No. 9 Year 1998 on Freedom to Express Opinion in Public, anybody who wishes to hold a public protest should inform the police in advance. I believe that in this case, KNPB has complied with this requirement that it is baseless for the police to ‘dismiss’ the committee’s ‘request’ for demonstration permit. The aforementioned law did not in any way grant the police with the authority to decide which demonstrations can be carried out and which one not. I am concerned that the police have mistakenly interpreted the law and restricted freedom of expression based on such false interpretation. Apart from that, the law itself emphasises that public protests can be dispersed by the authority if such particular activity disrupts public order. In this case, the protests in Jayapura and Sorong were hardly even started that it was too premature to claim that they were disrupting public order.

I am aware that the UN Human Rights Committee deplored the lack of freedom of expression in Papua during the human rights review session in Geneva earlier this year. In its concluding observation, the Committee calls the Indonesian government to ‘take the necessary steps to ensure that any restrictions to the freedom of expression comply fully with the strict requirements’ under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). I endorse the committee’s view and thereby urge that the arbitrary dispersal of peaceful protests in Papua finds an end. Furthermore, I request that individuals expressing their political view are no longer stopped or arrested.

As for this particular case, I urge you to ensure that the dispersal of the peaceful demonstrations and the arrests of individuals participating in them by the police are independently as well as effectively investigated. Any state official who is responsible for ordering such arbitrary actions should be brought to justice and imposed an adequate punishment.

I look forward for your adequate and effective response in this matter.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President of the Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
Tel: +62 21 3458 595
Fax: +62 21 3484 4759

2. Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director of Human Rights
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 6–7
Kuningan, Jakarta 12940
Tel: +62 21 525 3006, 525 3889
Fax: +62 21 525 3095

3. Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110
Tel: +62 21 384 8537, 726 0306
Fax: +62 21 7220 669

4. Mr. Tito Karnavian
Chief of Papua Regional Police
Jl. Dr. Sam Ratulangi No. 8 Jayapura
Tel: +62 967 531 014, 533 396
Fax: +62 967 533 763

5. Mr. Djoko Suyanto
Chairperson of the National Police Commission
Jl. Tirtayasa VII No. 20 Kebayoran Baru
Jakarta Selatan 12160
Tel: +62 21 739 2317
Fax: +62 21 739 2317

6. Ms. Siti Nur Laila
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4-B
Jakarta 10310
Tel: +62 21 392 5227-30
Fax: +62 21 392 5227


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-123-2013
Countries : Indonesia,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of assembly, Freedom of expression,