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Papuans detained over PNG quake victim relief collection

Radio New Zealand International - April 9, 2018

Indonesian police have denied claims that they arrested a group of people in Papua province for a public action to collect funds for victims of Papua New Guinea's recent earthquake.

A Papuan group was taken in by Indonesian police on 7 April 2018 after holding a public collection for donations to a relief fund for earthquake victims in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.

Jayapura municipal police chief Gustav Robby Urbinas said that five Papuans were secured and taken to the police station after being found to have not gained a permit for their public collection.

Suara Papua reports that the group were detained by police last Thursday after collecting relief donations at a main street junction in Abepura for victims of February's 7.5 magnitude quake in PNG.

Police Superintendent Urbinas said the men were not arrested, and suggested they were intoxicated and posed a threat to public disorder.

However, on Saturday, eleven more people were arrested and held briefly for public collecting of funds for the PNG relief cause.

The group, West Papua Solidarity for Earthquake Disaster, told RNZ Pacific it had already submitted to both municipal and regional police written notification they would be collecting in March and April.

According to the group's chief, Kris Dogopia, the collection was purely aimed at assisting quake victims in a neighbouring country with fellow Melanesian people.

He said the collection had no link with politics, and nor did it pose a security threat as police suggested.

"They thought that we had disturbed the security in Indonesia, they talked like that to us," Mr Dogopia said. "And we said we not disturb your security in Indonesia, but we do a solidarity for our brothers and sisters in PNG."

He explained that some of the group's cash collection had been confiscated and not returned.

"They take our money... the policemen take it. Today I and my friend, we will go to the policemen's office to ask them our money, where they take it."

Kris Dogopia said the amount of collection money which was confiscated was small, but added that his group wanted to help PNG people in a time of need.

Source: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/354552/papuans-detained-over-png-quake-victim-relief-collection.

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