Papua Diaries, 31, Papua free movement demonstration, 8th detention

Oh well Let’s extend 2rd law of solo travelling to not go to demonstrations full of military escort. Well anything that military in some kind of operation. They military/police are rather susceptible and unwise.


Wake up early and I go towards where my hitch yesterday told me a Papua free demonstration would take place, from the University to the center of the city, it shall be a 20km long march.

I walk to the place, it is full of police and military. I approach a roundabout and next to someone who I think is a reporter I try to take picture of the people gathered there,  but that guy grabs me, another others joins. They tell me that they are police, however the police standing few meters away, by the road does not move an inch.

At the end some of the military and police moves towards us, I thought they would deal with things, instead they grab me and force me to the police station. I get free of they grasp but I walk along them not to get into trouble. Probably the guy who whas taking pictures and first graved me was a plain clothes police.

On the way to the office innumerable other policemen take pictures of me. I smile :), later I will learn that they do so in order to sell them to the press…

What follows at the police office is the usual Indonesian interrogatory, be asked the same questions again and again by 15 different people in the room, is like they don’t hear what I already said. Odd, and starts to be frustrating after 2h. Also they take many pictures of the content of my pockets, over and over, and write several reports in parallel with their smartphone and by hand. Extremely efficient it seems…

The demonstration is organized by a student movement and the police tells me that reporters are not allowed by law. On addition they tell me that they will broke it down in few hours. It’s supposed to be a long march for freedom, from Abepura, where the university is, to Jayapura center, where the local government is.

The Papua Free movement commando that I met previously told me that despite the government is apparently officially allowing free press in papua, that’s not the case on the the grownd. I would dare to say that the old military elite from the military/police forces remaining from the dictatorship is still nervous about here. I’ll be confirm about that by the interrogation police guy next day.

Well it’s easy to understand. Almost everyone I met lost a close familiar and/or friend by their hands, if what the locals told me is true. Families being big it might explain why so many seem affected, but it still describes a brutal repression and murders and rapes well into the 21 century.


Anyway the police is deeply suspicious and is detaining me yet again (for few hours). It does not help that one guy is trying to see all my pictures, where the Papua free movement ones are. Luckily they are buried along thousands of others, but I must already  remove them from my camera. I’m a bit too careless.

My host is called (this time I learned from my last detention and I give his details), when he comes I’m bailed out. Coincidentally he works on the bank that is just in front of where the march that has not been allowed to progress is. Now is just a stand off that takes all day. I therefore can go to the upper floors of the bank and I can watch the demonstration without the police detaining me, good enough, but I would love to mingle there! ugggh, i so much would like to mingle in there and take amazing pictures. My consolation is that i can see it from above.

Quite cool, many people with painted faces wearing the west papua flag  and (un)dressed in the traditional way of Wamina (the highlands) with the kotekas, penis covers.


The demonstration is small anyway, few thousands at best. Yeah not letting it progress only shows the nervousness of the establishment.

In fact, has any pacific demonstration ever changed something? usually is the crack down of those which start change, but the ones that come to my mind that have been pacific and allowed to progress, have done nothing, even if they where massive. Only when you start repression you are endangering yourself. I guess usually power is inherently self preserving stupid. That’s why it has changed hands so many times.


The clever one is self preserving but doesn’t change hands so often.


On last note, the police for some reason leaked my details to the press: name, university and what not. That’s how that picture at the beginning of the post happened to be and now is linked with my name, forever or as long google does it 😦

So worried all my life of my details going to the web without my complete supervision and masking and now I’m all over the press. It was translated to english, then catalan, spanish… my PhD supervisor and friends piked it at home. Great…

Spanish tourist arrested at demonstration in West Papua

Btw the reports of my detention have been greatly exaggerated (paraphrasing Twain). Is not a “detention” per se and the headlines saying that thousands others where detained was a complete exaggeration, non was detained, only they where not allowed to advance on the long march, so it became a stand off demonstration.

Anyway as always and as everywhere press does its job in its own way, it has not changed in hundreds of years and I lived through the facts. I shall be happy to experience how the world really works, I don’t feel happy…


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