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Lawyer, five students and others arrested in Manokwari

According to a report received this morning (14 December) from LP3BH, the legal aid and investigation institute based in Manokwari, a member of their lawyers team has been arrested by the police while he was involved in monitoring a flag-raising incident on Tuesday, 14 December.

As reported by Yan Christian Warrinussy, executive director of the LP3BH, the flag-raising is an event held every year on 14 December to mark the anniversary of the independence proclamation by the West Melanesian Council 22 years ago [in 1988] by Dr Thomas Wanggai [who died shortly thereafter]

This year's anniversary flag-raising took place outside the office of the Manokwari district office, under the leadership of Melkianus Bleskadit, who was subsequently arrested by the police, acting on the orders of police chief Agustinus Supriyanto . The Rev. Dance Yenu and five others, all students were arrested, apparently for unfurling a flag.

A member of the institute's human rights defenders team, Simon Risyard Banundi, was arrested while monitoring the event, as part of the LP3BH's human rights activities. Banundi is also a member of the Indonesian organisation of lawyers, PERADIN which is the oldest lawyers organisation in Indonesia.

The institute says that his arrest is in clear violation of article 17 of the criminal procedural code, Law 39/1999 on Human Rights, and Law 18/2003 on Lawyers and the International Convention on Human Rights Defenders as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a subsequently message, Warinussy described the action by the police as being 'very arrogant', and pointed out that Banundi, who has been working as a member of the staff of the LP3BH for a year, has frequently issued statements that are very critical of the activities of the police as well as the army, in response to their efforts to reform both the police and the army, and critical in particular the police special force, Brimob in Manokwari who are often seen drinking alcohol with local people while bearing weapons that belong to Brimob. On several occasions, they are heard firing these weapons into the air.

Since his arrest this morning and up until 8pm, Simon Banundi has not yet been interrogated because he is refusing to answer any questions as he has no lawyer to accompany him. Nor have the police given any reason for Simon's arrest.

In the opinion of PERADIN, his arrest is unlawful because he was in the course of performing his duties a human rights defender

The flag-raising event is also reported in today's Bintang Papua though they have not yet reported the arrest of Simon Banundi. The paper did however report that the security forces had mustered a large number of personnel, saying that they 'would not tolerate any unfurling of the flag'. No fewer that 999 personnel were deployed in anticipate of the event.

The paper reports that the deployment of special forces has been under way for four days 'in order to ensure that the general public can proceed with their activities without hindrance' according to the police in the capital city of Jayapura , as well as along the border with PNG, in order 'to guard vital places such as the governor's office, the DPRP's headquarters and other places.


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