Police have accused the Papuan independence leader of being a traitor and a ‘mastermind’ behind the 2019 civil unrest.
Indonesian authorities have arrested Papua New Guinea’s independence leader Victor Yimo, a police spokesman said after allegations that he caused some of the worst civil unrest in decades in 2014.
Yemo, an international spokesman for the West Papua National Committee, was arrested in the provincial capital, Jaipur, on Monday and is being questioned, Iqbal Alkudusi told Reuters on Monday.
Police have accused the 36-year-old of being the “mastermind” behind the protests and sedition in 2019, as well as inciting violence and social unrest, insulting the national flag and music and carrying weapons without permission.
Extremely concerned about detention # Westpapua Pro-independence activist Victor Yemo. He is at risk of torture or ill-treatment by Indonesian security forces and must immediately enter a legal representation.https://t.co/zDppHpTc3R pic.twitter.com/xKLqa0P2BM
– Joseph Benedict (@ Josephroy 2) May 10, 2021
9/5/21 Jaipur, West Papua
Victor Yemo, a key peaceful grassroots leader who went into hiding, was just arrested. He is bound for sedition for his role in the 2019 West Papua coup. pic.twitter.com/bQHR1aQGq4
– Veronica Coman Akane Zoo (VeronicaCommon) May 9, 2121
His arrest comes amid growing tensions in Indonesia’s eastern provinces, with President Joko Widodo calling for a crackdown after a senior detective was shot dead late last month.
Emanuel Gobe, a group of Papuan lawyers representing Yemen, said his client had not yet been formally charged.
A traitor can carry a life sentence in prison.
The protests have left the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua on the island of New Guinea – collectively known as Papua – for weeks in August 2019.
Violent unrest has erupted in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second city on the Java Islands, after a Papua student reprimanded a Papua student for insulting the national flag and calling them “monkeys”.
The 2019 protests called for independence from Indonesia.
Papuan separatists have been pushing for independence for decades, saying the 1969 UN-sponsored vote brought the region under Indonesian control.
Indonesia rejects claims.
In a development alarming to rights activists, Indonesia’s chief defense minister has announced that armed Papuan separatists could be legally designated “terrorists” and tried under anti-terrorism law.
Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Komon said Yemo’s arrest could further escalate the situation.
“As news spread that he had been arrested, West Papuans have already announced that they will take to the streets to demand his release,” he said.