Police arrest 15 Papuan students at peaceful May Day rally in Jakarta

By Yogi Ernes in Jakarta

Indonesian police have seized 15 Papuan students among scores arrested at a May Day rally in central Jakarta on the ground that they did not have a permit to demonstrate.

“Yes, 15 people were secured and taken to the Metro Jaya regional police [headquarters]. They wanted to protest without a permit,” said Metro Jaya regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Yusri Yunus.

The students were arrested yesterday as they marched past the US Embassy on Jl Medan Merdeka Selatan in central Jakarta. They were taken to the Metro Jaya headquarters.

According to Yunus, when they were questioned by officers at the location, the Papuan students were unable to produce a permit for the action.

Yunus said that the 15 students were not carrying any suspicious objects and because of this they had now been sent home.

“We’ve now sent them home. Earlier we just collected data on them,” said Yunus.

The rallies in Jakarta were centred on the Horse Statue area.

Thousands took to streets
Thousands of workers from various different trade unions took to the streets to convey their aspirations.

The workers took up a number of demands, one of which was cancelling the Job Creation Law which they say harms workers.

CNN Indonesia reports that up to 300 people were arrested in rallies near the Horse Statue and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) offices in central Jakarta.

The figures on the arrests were obtained by summarising statements made by police up until the May Day actions ended at 5.05 pm.

The first arrests were the 15 Papuan students.

Following this, police arrested 12 anarchists.

Senior Commissioner Yunus said that the group was arrested as they wanted to join protesting workers in front of the ILO office.

“12 young anarchists were arrested,” said Yunus.

Yunus said they were arrested because it was suspected that they wanted to “create a riot” during the labour protests.

“As is usual with them there were suspicions they wanted to create a riot, so we secured them, we questioned them”, said Yunus.

Thirty students from the Indonesian Association of Catholic Students (PMKRI) were also arrested.

Central Jakarta District police deputy chief Assistant Superintendant Setyo Koes Hariyanto said the students were arrested as they tried to incite chaos by setting fire to tyres.

Women protesters arrested
In Medan, North Sumatra, CNN Indonesia reports that Medan metropolitan district police (Polrestabes) arrested 14 protesters seven women and seven men – the from the People’s Resistance Alliance for the Destruction of Tyranny.

Medan Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) labour and urban poor division head Maswan Tambak said there were no grounds for the repressive action by police against the peaceful protest.

In addition, the protesters did not violate covid-19 health protocols.

Protesters from the Medan People and Workers Accumulation of Anger Alliance (AKBR) acused rogue police officers of intimidating and sexually harassing them.

“There were police who recorded demonstrators by sticking their mobile phones in the face of women protesters. It really wasn’t ethical, and we consider that threatening,” said the founder of Women Today (PHI), Lusty Ro Manna Malau.

“The actions of these rogue police cannot be allowed to become normalised.”

Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Polisi Amankan 15 Mahasiswa Papua di Demo Hari Buruh di Jakarta”.

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