On July 14, 2022, police used batons to violently disperse student members of the Papua People’s Petition (PRP) at Cenderawasih University who were protesting the new special autonomy status of Papua Province and the formation of three new provinces in Papua.
The PRP submitted a request to hold the protest to the Police Chief; however he denied the students’ request claiming the protest would disrupt public order. Instead the police chief said he would facilitate a group of PRP representatives to meet with parliament members. The PRP declined the police chief’s proposal and held the protest anyway. Videos and photos posted in media articles show police officers wearing helmets and heavy gear using batons on the protesters.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force by state security forces against students peacefully exercising of the right to freedom of expression and association – conduct which is 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 signatory. While state authorities have the right to implement reasonable laws and regulations to ensure order and protect state officials, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from actions that may result in unnecessary harm. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, freedom of expression, and democratic society generally.
*Identified from Asian HRD Database