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Schools ransacked in Papua crackdown

Church condemns arrest sweeps in institutions after police fire warning shots

Schools ransacked in Papua crackdown
Father Tebay
Police and troops ransacked several Catholic institutions, including the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, in search of wanted Papuan Congress members, a Church spokesman said yesterday. The raids on Saturday followed the forced break up of the Third Papuan People’s Congress earlier in the day after participants last week hoisted the Morning Star flag, a symbol of the Papua independence movement, Father Neles Tebay told a press conference in the school’s compound. Police reportedly fired warning shots in the assembly, prompting many of the 1,500 participants to flee. Authorities arrested more than 300 people in the crackdown, during which six people were killed and six others later charged with treason, reports said. Father Tebay said troops first mounted a guard outside the school then burst in, ransacking the dormitory, despite protests from seminarians, several of whom were assaulted suffering minor injuries. They then broke into the study room and a computer room, “messing up the whole place,” he said. “The sound of smashing mirrors could be heard. There was also a voice pleading, ‘Don’t do this! This is a mission house,’” Fr Tebay said. The nearby New Jerusalem Interdiocesan Major Seminary was also raided, he said. Troops stormed a housing complex for lecturers firing tear gas into rooms. In a Franciscan community house, they found and arrested several congress participants. Condemning the “heavy-handed” methods of the authorities, Fr Tebay said: “We strongly abhor any form of repressive act, because violent acts humiliate humanity.” Related reports: Papua peace still elusive, say leaders Government ‘must stop Papua violence’

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