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Claims of torture following Papua protest

Leader arrested as police deny torture allegations

Claims of torture following Papua protest

Police arrest a man during protests in Jayapura, Papua, on May  13

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

May 14, 2013

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Police in Papua have arrested independence movement leader Victor Yeimo along with three other protesters, two of whom are believed to have been tortured. The arrests took place yesterday after demonstrations against the killing of three men by security forces in early May.

The four arrested are being held at a police station in Jayapura, capital of Papua province, according to the West Papua National Committee. In addition to Yeimo, the group comprises Yongky Ulimpa, Ely Kobak, and Marthen Manggaprouw.

Zely Ariane, coordinator of National Papua Solidarity, said that a university student identified as Markus Giban who also took part in the demonstration had his arm broken after police beat him with a gun. There have also been reports that Yeimo was beaten.

Around 1,000 Papuans took to the streets of Jayapura yesterday to protest the fatal shooting of three Papuan independence advocates on May 1 in Aimas, Sorong district.

Papua police spokesperson I Gede Sumerta Jaya said that Yeimo had been detained for further questioning because of his role in organizing the rally. 

“Before the protest, Yeimo told police that only 500 people will join. In fact, he invited the public to join,” he told reporters.

The statement was rejected by Ariane. “The police didn’t want the rally to be held. Nevertheless, people ignored it because they believed it is their right,” she said, adding that the incident was “a small picture of how democracy is kept silent by the repressive government.”

Indonesia annexed Papua in 1965, and has since exercised harsh treatment of separatist movements. Police however have denied that any of the four arrested yesterday were beaten. 

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