Voting Delays As Extra Police Arrive to Bolster Security in Papua PDF Afdrukken

While most Indonesians who wanted to vote did so on Thursday, a string of violent incidents in Papua this week meant people in six of the province’s districts did not vote until Friday, while a different problem has pushed back voting in yet another three districts until this weekend.

Beni Sweni, the head of the Papua General Elections Commission, or KPUD, said the polls in the six districts were delayed a day because on Thursday there had been rumors there would be attacks at polling stations in the districts of Jayapura, Kerom, Nabire, Biak, Wamena and Sarmi.

“People were afraid there would be attacks, so they did not cast their votes on April 9,” Beni said.

Another three districts, with a total of 245 polling stations, were unable to conduct voting due to delays in the delivery of ballot papers. These districts, Pegunungan Bintang, Yahukimo and Paniai, will vote today or Sunday.

Beni said the precise timing of elections in Papua often depended on weather and security.

‘Sending more police gives the impression that Papua is at war’ Indria Fernida, Kontras coordinator

Separate incidents in Papua on Wednesday and Thursday left five people dead. The incidents included an attack on a police post by more than 100 people in Abepura, near Papua’s capital Jayapura, in which one man was fatally shot by police; a blast at Pertamina’s oil depot in Biak that killed one person; and an attack in Wamena district in which three people died.

However, authorities said that generally the voting in Papua had gone smoothly because police had managed to take control of the situation.

Papua Governor Banrnabas Suebu on Friday condemned the violence. “The incidents are uncivilized and against the law,” he said.

The Papua office of the nonprofit Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, said in a press release that it regretted the violence that took place in Papua prior to the elections.

Kontras asked the authorities, especially the police, to act professionally and to ensure that an extra squad sent to Papua by the National Police would end the violence and avoid the spread of the province’s separatist conflict. It said that although Papua was a conflict-prone region, its people had a right to peace at all times, but especially during elections.

“The security measures should not trigger a new repression of civilians,” Kontras deputy coordinator Indria Fernida said, adding that the extra police squad sent to Papua was excessive because the number of police and military already in the province was sufficient.

“Sending more police makes people uneasy and gives the impression that Papua is at war.”

An elite Brimob squad from Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi Province, arrived on Friday morning in Jayapura to help provide security in Papua after the attacks.