On April 7, 2021, police briefly arrested three Cenderawasih University students participating in a peaceful protest over a mining project in Papua.
The students organized a demonstration in the city of Jayapura to protest a gold and copper mine owned by PT Freeport Indonesia in West Papua. The students were concerned over violence, environmental damage, and human rights violations connected to the mine. Students congregated in at least three locations and were set to march to the governor’s headquarters.
Sources indicate that a heavy police presence was ordered ahead of the protest, with as many as 300 officers deployed to the students’ meeting points. Police reportedly stopped the students from marching and arrested three organizers of the protest: Ayus Heluka, Herrian Soll and Asael Wanimbo. Police claimed that the students did not properly register the protest with them.
According to reporting by the International Coalition for Papua, students claimed that they had registered the protest with police, but the latter refused to provide a letter confirming this.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about dispersal of a peaceful student protest and the arrests of students for organizing a peaceful protest — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against peaceful student expression. Arrests and efforts to restrict student expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).