Report – By a special correspondent in Jayapura
Eight nurses and midwives have been arrested in West Papua for their alleged involvement in a strike resulting in a halt to services at the general hospital in Jayapura, the capital of the Indonesian-ruled province. They face charges of inciting their colleagues to take part in a strike.
The eight people are being held by the criminal investigation unit of the Papuan police command.
Police claim there is sufficient proof that the nurses had acted in violation of the law, forcing others to engage in acts of violence and citing a number of articles in Indonesia’s criminal code.
Media attempts to contact the police for confirmation of the arrest were unsuccessful.
According to Anum Siregar, one of the lawyers acting for the eight, a group of 50 personnel from the security forces had gone to the homes of two of the people and told them that they must report to police headquarters in Papua.
The two women, Leni Ebe and Popi Mauri, then contacted the lawyer to inform her of what had happened. The two women then reported to the police as requested, in the company of the lawyer.
The two had earlier received notification from the police that they would be summoned as witnesses in connection with the strike action of the hospital staff.
According to Anum Siregar, after being questioned for several hours by the police as witnesses, the police changed tack and indicated that they were being held as suspects. Soon after, the police took the six others into custody.
Bintang Papua reported the eight detainees had been subjected to prolonged interrogations while other staff from the hospital had rallied in support of their colleagues.
Anum Siregar accused the police of acting in violation of the rule of law, saying the medical personnel were only acting in defence of their legitimate rights. She also said that the action by the police would have a negative effect on the provision of services for patients at the general hospital.
“The impact will not be felt by officials in the province because they never go to the local hospital for treatment on occasions when they fall ill but fly to Jakarta or overseas for treatment,” she said.
Siregar also said the arrests had led to expressions of solidarity from members of the medical profession throughout the “Land of Papua” in protest against the actions of the police
Translated into English by Tapol from Bintang Papua.
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