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ICC Note: Tensions have always been high in Indonesia’s Papua province, where the majority of indigenous Papuans are Christians.  The Indonesian government has been accused of not respecting the indigenous Papuan population, as seen in the actions of government authorities.

By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

10/13/2015 Indonesia (

Catholic activists in Indonesia’s Papua province have denounced what they say are repressive measures after police detained six seminarians taking part in a peaceful rally in early October.

Six Franciscan and Augustinian seminarians had joined other rights activists in the Oct. 8 rally held in the provincial capital of Jayapura. The demonstrators were calling on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to investigate the unresolved December 2014 killings of four student protesters, when armed police broke up the demonstration and hauled away several people, including the seminarians.

“They, carrying weapons, got off their truck and seized all [belongings] such as posters that we brought,” Yulianus Freddy Pawika, a Franciscan seminarian, told Oct. 13. “We were then taken into the truck.”

Pawika said police interrogated the protesters for 90 minutes before releasing them.

“We just wanted to hold a peaceful protest,” said Pawika, who is also a member of the Franciscan-run Secretariat of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Papua. “We are called to defend Papuans who easily become victims of violence and the police’s brutality.”

Indonesian authorities are frequently accused of repressive measures in Papua and West Papua provinces, where there has been a long-simmering independence movement among indigenous Papuans, who are predominantly Christian.

When they were arrested, the seminarians had been demonstrating for an investigation into the December 2014 killings of four students. Those students died when protesters rushed a military post in a remote district in Papua. The protesters had been outraged by a previous incident in which locals had allegedly been assaulted during a Christmas celebration.

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