Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - Some 816 police and military personnel are on standby in areas around Jayapura, Papua, as a precautionary measure against likely local protests over Balikpapan District Court's guilty verdicts against seven Papuan youths accused of treason.

The deployment of police and military personnel will be conducted to secure areas, such as Abepura and Zipur Waena T-junction, Jayapura City Police Chief Adjunct Sen. Coms. Gustav R. Urbinas stated here on Wednesday.

Ferry Kombo, Alex Gobay, Hengku Hilapok, Irwanus Urobmabin, Buchtar Tabuni, Steven Itlay, and Agus Kossay were the seven Papuan youths, who stood trial in the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan Province.

According to media reports, the court's panel of judges handed out their verdicts on Wednesday, under which they received 10 up to 11 months in jail or significantly lower than five to 17 years that the prosecutor had asked.

The local police also stationed several tactical vehicles to back up the security personnel, including placing water cannon and Barracuda, Urbinas remarked.

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On Wednesday, tens of people congregated in the Perumnas III of Waena neighborhood area and front gate of the Abepura-based Cenderawasih University campus to vociferously echo their demands for the release of the seven Papuan youths.

In the meantime, Indonesia's National Police spokesman, Inspector General Argo Yuwono, dismissed a claim that the seven Papuan youths, tried in connection with a treason case at the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan, are political prisoners.

Tendering a clarification to this end, Yuwono stated in Jakarta on Wednesday that Papuan youngsters were purely criminals, who had allegedly incited a string of deadly violence and rioting in Papua Province, especially in the areas of Jayapura, last year.

As a consequence of their provocative acts, violence and riots broke out in the easternmost province, resulting in several locals incurring material losses and resulting in destruction to personal property, he expounded.

Hence, Yuwono rebuked the rumors circulated by small demonstrating groups among members of the public in their recent rallies of Papuan youths standing trial in the Balikpapan District Court being political prisoners, calling them completely baseless and groundless.

"They are obviously criminals, and their court proceedings have met the legal basis in accordance with what they did," Yuwono stated, adding that the youths' trial was not viewed as being a political matter since it was purely related to their acts of crime.

ANTARA noted that Papua and West Papua had come under the radar of both Indonesian and foreign media after a spate of violence broke out in several parts of these two Indonesian provinces in August and September 2019.

On August 28, 2019, violence erupted in Deiyai District, some 500 kilometers away from Jayapura, resulting in the deaths of an army soldier and two civilians.

The indigenous Papuan residents of Jayapura again protested on August 29, as they vented out their ire over the alleged racist behavior against their Papuan compatriots in Surabaya, East Java, but their rally then took a violent turn.

On September 23, a deadly riot had erupted in Wamena, the capital city of Jayawijaya District, Papua Province, which claimed the lives of 33 civilians, including a senior medical doctor, who had served the native Papuans for 15 years.

The Indonesian police accused Benny Wenda, a member of the West Papua movement separatist group, of involvement in the spread of fake news to instigate native Papuans.

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Translator: Hendrina DK, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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