Based on the records of a number of independent organizations in Papua, violations of freedom of expression, specifically the right to public expression of opinion, have worsened in the past two years. One of the pillars of democracy has been silenced by the government, as the people of Papua cannot freely express their opinions publicly. Why is this the case?
From January 2015 to December 2016, there has been an escalation in the silencing of public expression of opinion in Papua in general, and in Jayapura specifically1. The peak was on May 2, 2016, when 1,696 Papuans were arrested and detained in the yard of the police mobile brigade corps’s headquarters in Jayapura (Mako Brimob Kotaraja Jayapura). The security apparatus not only arrested members of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat -KNPB), who have always been targeted, but also students and even children.2 It was an incident against basic humanity and will be remembered in Papuan history.
A year prior to that, on May 1, 2015, a number of protesters were forcibly dispersed by the Jayapura City Police (Polresta Jayapura). During the incident 30 people were arrested.3 The day after, May 2, 2015, more than one hundred KNPB activists were arrested by Jayapura City Police and Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua) in front of Cendrawasih University’s archway. At the time they were rallying to support a referendum campaign and the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) meeting in London, which was to be held on May 3, 2016, as well as to express support publicly for the inclusion of the United Liberation.
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