Monday 25.7.2016 in Latest Developments in Indonesia Country Page
In recent months, protests in West Papua continued to be met with heavy-handed police tactics. On 28th May, two activists were arrested and detained by security forces for distributing leaflets about an upcoming separatist rally and encouraging others to participate. The police detained a further 98 individuals under suspicion of planning to participate. Although many were subsequently released, freedom of assembly remains fiercely constricted in West Papua. The authorities refuse to permit any rallies in the province and use forced dispersal and mass arrests to prevent separatist gatherings.
Questions continue to be asked of the Indonesian authorities' ability to protect gatherings on politically sensitive issues. On 2nd June, a national symposium discussing the communist purges in 1965 faced protests by vigilante and hard-line groups disagreeing with the event. Smaller events, such as the screening films documenting the events of 1965 by film director Joshua Oppenheimer (the Act of Killing & Look of Silence) at a university campuses, had to be cancelled due to threats from vigilante groups. Discussions on controversial topics are also susceptible to threats from vigilante groups in Indonesia.