International Women's Day
Participants gather to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2021 in Perumnas III, Jayapura.

Police arrest nine, disperse International Women’s Day rallies in West Papua

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West Papua No. 1 News Portal | Jubi

 

Jayapura, Jubi – The police arrested nine rally participants in West Papua on Monday, March 8, 2021 and dispersed International Women’s Day rallies in Jayapura, the biggest city in West Papua.

 

The Jayapura Police arrested the nine and dispersed the rallies because they said it violated the Covid-19 health protocols. The nine were held not for long in the Jayapura Police precinct and the police released and returned them to the rally location in Waena, Jayapura.

 

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The rallies were held by Papuan Women Alliance to celebrate the International Women’s Day at three different locations: Expo Waena, Perumnas III, and Abepura Circle.

 

Read also: Economic factors influencing Papuan women to become sex workers in Manokwari

 

At 8 am, the police had guarded the location at Expo Waena. When the protesters from the alliance arrived at 9 am, they opened the rally with speeches for 30 minutes. But after 30 minutes, the police approached the participants and asked them to disperse themselves, citing reasons that the protesters were violating Covid-19 protocols and disrupted the traffic.

 

The protesters refused to stop their rally, so the police forced them to stop and arrested nine people: Rossyana Zine K, Christin B Wakerkwa, Alfando Kogoya, Elias Hindom, Yurdin Kogoya, Astry B Yikwa, Iman Kogoya, Warinus Murib, and Yokbeth Felle.

 

The alliance general coordinator, Rossyana said the police made Covid-19 protocols only as a pretext. “They used coronavirus as the reason but they used repression. They pulled us, pushed us. They said ‘hey you don’t understand the law, you spread a virus, who is going to make you behave’. We explained the regulation we used but the police said they were old rules,” Rossyana said.

 

Read also: When reparation is out of reach, violence against Papuan women continues to occur

 

At Jayapura Police precinct, the nine protesters refused to be brought for questioning until their lawyers, from Papua Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua), came. At 1 pm, the police released them.

 

“They asked us some questions but we did not respond. We said wait for our lawyers. The police took our megaphone but we managed to get it returned,” she went on.

 

Rossyana said the rallies were to voice economic and education discrimination against women in West Papua. She said many native Papuan women traders, called mama-mama Papua, did not get any proper facility to sell their products.

 

Rossyana said the formal education during the pandemic, done online, had posed some difficulties for some students because many teachers only gave them assignments without proper explanation.

 

“We want justice. Our goal here is to raise public awareness that it is not something we should accept, but a suffering we slowly feel. We took to the streets to raise the awareness,” she said.

 

LBH Papua director, Emanuel Gobay, said he did not know for sure the reason the police dispersed the rallies and arrested nine participants. He was on the way to the police precinct when the police released the nine. “I was on the way but then I heard they were released. So I had not asked the reason for the arrest to the police,” he said.

 

Jubi tried to confirm the reason for the arrest to Jayapura Police, but no one at the precinct gave Jubi any explanation. They said the chief was going out of town.

 

Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, also saw a rally for International Women’s Day. The rallies went on without police interruption.

 

Critics have said that the rules for health protocols during the pandemic is not consistently enforced. The authorities let some others hold a big crowd but dispersed others. Many people criticized the North Sumatra Police, for example, for letting a contesting faction in Democractic Party to hold a large meeting in Medan, North Sumatra. It was reported that more than 1,000 people gathered for the meeting, which declared presidential chief of staff Moeldoko as the new party chief.

 

Reporter: Theo Kelen

Editor: Aryo Wisanggeni G, Evi Mariani

 

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