UCA News
Contribute

Indonesia arrests Papuan leader over 'fake news'

Head of West Papua National Committee allegedly posted provocative stories about church leaders
Indonesia arrests Papuan leader over 'fake news'

Indonesian police question Manuel Metemko after his arrest for allegedly spreading fake news in Merauke. (Photo: Nemangkawi Task Force)

Published: June 11, 2021 07:02 AM GMT
Updated: June 11, 2021 09:28 AM GMT

Indonesian authorities have arrested a Papuan pro-independence leader for allegedly spreading false and inflammatory stories on social media, including fake news about Catholic Church leaders.

Manuel Metemko, 38, chairman of the pro-separatist West Papua National Committee (KNPB), was arrested by a joint military and police team called the Nemangkawi Task Force in Merauke district on June 9.

“He has repeatedly spread hoaxes, provocative stories and hatred online via his Facebook page,” task force spokesman Iqbal Alqudussy told reporters on June 10.

One of his posts claimed that Sacred Heart Archbishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi, who was allegedly the target of suicide bombers, was targeted by terrorists aiming to prevent a visit by Pope Francis to Papua.

In another, he allegedly claimed the supposed plot could have been a bid by authorities to stop religious leaders talking about the violence in Papua.

Yet another post said religious leaders were being terrorized by unidentified people.

It was strange that the task force made the arrest as it would normally be an investigator that did it

Other posts included calls for an independence referendum and condemnation of Papua’s special autonomy status. 

He was charged under Indonesia’s Electronic Information and Transaction law and could be sentenced to six years in prison.

Emanuel Gobay, director of the Legal Aid Foundation in Papua, said Metemko’s arrest was unusual. 

There have been no complaints filed with police about his posts, which you might have expected before his arrest, he said. 

Also, “it was strange that the task force made the arrest as it would normally be an investigator that did it,” Gobay said, adding that everything pointed to authorities targeting KNPB leaders. 

He said Metemko was the second KNPB leader arrested by the task force.

Victor Yeimo, the group’s international spokesman, was arrested in the provincial capital Jayapura on May 9 in connection with anti-racism riots in August 2019 in cities across Papua in which more than 30 people were killed.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia