On November 10, 2022, violent clashes broke out between police and students during a demonstration at the University of Science and Technology Jayapura.
The students were reportedly demanding an investigation into the Indonesian army’s murder of the former Papuan Council President and Papua independence leader Theys Eluay in 2001. During their protest, at least two students raised the Morning Star flag, a symbol of pro-Papua independence that the government has made illegal to display. A university administrator reportedly called on police to intervene.
Clashes broke out after police arrived on the scene and arrested one of the flag-waving students. Multiple news reports and videos indicate that riot police fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse students, some of whom threw stones at police, injuring several officers. Police further reported that some students allegedly closed the university gates from the outside during the police intervention.
Initial news reports noted that 13 to 15 students were arrested; however some reports have only noted 7 students arrested. As of this writing, it is unclear whether the students have been charged.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by violent clashes between police and students during a campus protest. While state security forces have a responsibility to maintain order and security, they must also exercise restraint, refrain from disproportionate force, and respect peaceful expressive activity. Students are also reminded to refrain from violence during protests and other assemblies, and to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Disproportionate responses to on-campus protests may unnecessarily elevate tensions and the risk of violence, and 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)