Court finds activists guilty of treason for holding Papuan self-determination protest

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 24, 2020   /   09:19 pm


A panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court have found six activists guilty of committing treasonous acts for holding a protest in support of Papuan independence in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta in last August.

The bench handed prison sentences to the activists – Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) spokesperson Surya Anta and students Charles Kossay, Deno Tabuni, Isay Wenda, Ambrosius Mulait and Arina Elopere – during a virtual verdict hearing on Friday afternoon.

All activists were handed a nine-month prison sentence, except for Isay who was punished with eight months’ imprisonment.

Judges said during the session that all defendants had violated Article 110 in relation to Article 106 of the Criminal Code Law (KUHP) for conspiring to promote secession.

“All defendants are found guilty of a collective act of treason,” presiding judge Agustinus Setyo Wahyu read the verdict during the session.

The sentence is lower than the one year and five months in prison demanded by prosecutors.

Read also: Activists say protest supporting Papua not act of treason

Arina was found guilty of waving the banned Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag, which has come to symbolize the Papuan independence movement. She also danced and sang a song with the lyrics, “We are not red and white [the colors of the Indonesian flag],” during the protest on Aug. 28 last year.

The bench also found Dano guilty of treason in the form of a speech at the same protest, where he demanded that the government immediately hold a Papuan independence referendum.

Arina and Dano will only serve one month in prison as the bench decided to cut their sentence given that they served a period of detention during the investigation, which started in September last year.

The remaining activists were found guilty of attending the protest and voicing their opinions over demanding the independence referendum for Papuans.

The defendants’ lawyer, Oky Wiratama, said she was disappointed with the verdicts and questioned the process.

“[The verdict stated that] treasonous acts have pros and cons in addition to containing political substance, so the treason charges can be misused by the government to oppress its citizens.”

“If the judges were in doubt, I think the best way to resolve the case would have been to not impose a prison sentence for the defendants. They should be free of charges,” Oky told The Jakarta Post after the trial.

She added her team would deliberate the case for seven days before deciding whether to appeal.

Read also: All you need to know about the movement for Papuan self-determination

Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid echoed Oky, saying the treason charges might have been misused by the government against individuals who should never have been arrested or detained in the first place.

“The six who were sentenced today did nothing but attend a peaceful protest, enjoying their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is appalling that they had been in detention since August 2019, awaiting a verdict on such blatantly abusive charges,” Usman said in a statement.

He urged the government to immediately release the activists.

Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly were rights protected under international law and the Constitution, Usman added.

“No one should ever have to suffer this treatment for peacefully attending a protest, and it is high time that Indonesia stops criminalizing Papuans under treason provisions.”

End police power to punish everything under the sun

https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2019/10/15/end-police-power-to-punish-everything-under-the-sun.html

Opinion

End police power to punish everything under the sun

  • Kornelius Purba
  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, October 15, 2019   /   09:02 am

A policeman’s abuse of a motorcycle taxi driver who was mistakenly about to enter the palace grounds in Bogor sparked public anger. Although the traffic policeman who beat and kicked the Gojek driver apologized after the video of the abuse went viral on Oct. 5, the outburst perfectly reflects growing anxiety about Indonesia moving closer to becoming a police state. More than 20 years ago, people demanded an end to the military’s “dual function” because of its repeated abuse of power, but over the past decade or so the police also seem to have been enjoying their privileges too much.

We hope to rely on the police for our safety, but instead we’ve become rather nervous as police duties and tasks have come to cover almost everything: from policing bedrooms and petty crimes to dealing with any kind of corruption, terrorism, treason and defamation allegedly committed even just through an updated social media status. The National Police has become a super-body with little control from the outside.

Therefore, in forming his new Cabinet, scheduled to be announced after taking office for his second term on Oct. 20, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will hopefully complete the security sector reform by placing the police force under the Home Ministry, as many have demanded. To realize it, of course, some legal technicalities should be settled.

Jokowi can assign the current National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to be home minister if he is worried about police resistance, although he might also spark a public outcry. The military may welcome Tito’s move into the Cabinet if it is part of a plan to move the police force from directly answering to the President to being under the direction of the Home Ministry.

Gen. Tito has led the police force since July 13, 2016. As the top graduate from the Police Academy in 1987, the former counterterrorism chief was more academically qualified than his predecessors. Under his leadership, the police have been hailed among other things for foiling a terrorist plot following the April general elections.

The choice of then-Insp. Gen. Tito to lead the police starting on July 13, 2016, seemed bold of President Jokowi, as the country’s most powerful politician, Megawati Soekarnoputri, had signaled that another was her favorite for the job, her former adjutant Comr. Gen. (ret) Budi Gunawan, who was then nearing retirement age.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had declared Budi a graft suspect shortly after Jokowi proposed to the House of Representatives in January 2015 that Budi succeed then-National Police chief Sutarman. The court annulled the KPK’s decision but Jokowi finally chose Tito, a younger, much less controversial and more popular officer.

Indeed, according to the 2002 National Police Law, the police are under direct control of the President and the House must approve the appointment or dismissal of a police chief. However, more importantly, we need Jokowi’s political will and courage again to put the police on par with the Indonesian Military (TNI), with both having minimum potential to abuse power.

The harsh, if not militaristic, approach of the police in dealing with mass protests in Jakarta and elsewhere last May and September, the numerous arrests of demonstrators and the death of a number of them have increased resentment against the police’s show of force.

Like the military of old, the police enjoy virtual impunity.

A number of police generals now lead posts normally given to civilians, such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). It’s all legal, too ­ a National Police chief decree dated April 12 makes police ranks for the civilian positions compatible with high echelons of civil servants.

Cynics say the police are now enjoying the ‘dwi fungsi ‘(dual function), along with increasing powers and welfare. Occasional clashes involving the police and the TNI reflect the excess of reduced financial opportunities for the military compared to the police.

These range from large security jobs to extorting couples in a romantic embrace in public parks. The military policy and budget are controlled by the defense minister while TNI’s role is limited to defense, although there is considerable leeway in “operations other than war”.

The removal of the police from the president’s direct line of command should also reduce the apparent jealousy of TNI soldiers and officers toward the police. Police personnel are generally more prosperous than those in the three forces. Just visit the houses of police and military officers of equal rank and check for yourself.

Many Indonesians may find it quite hard to quickly answer when asked to identify one aspect of their lives where police cannot interfere. Dealing with the police is among the last things Indonesians want these days, despite experiencing improved services. Many of us feel uncomfortable when a police officer is nearby, like under the old regime.

Ahead of the new government set to begin later this month, this is the right time to reevaluate, again, the position of both the police and military.

The military has long faced temptations to regain its role in politics. This is very dangerous; I cannot imagine active officers regaining civilian positions. However, while foreign enemies have never (yet) come to our front door, which is the main threat the TNI should deal with, it is probably wise to give the military more additional jobs.

Whatever is decided, we should not let our nation become a police state. We need a professional police force, not one that can enter your house anytime it wants.

President Jokowi, please end the police’s power to punish everything under the sun

One day in Jayapura in land of ‘Big Brother’

 

One day in Jayapura in land of ‘Big Brother’

  • Darmawan Triwibowo
  • Civil society activist

Jayapura   /   Tue, September 24 2019   /  01:00 am
https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/09/24/one-day-jayapura-land-big-brother.html

On a Sunday evening, after considering various advice from colleagues, I decided to fly to Jayapura – just 10 days after violent protests rocked the city. There were friends to visit and people to meet to understand the current circumstances.

Gloomy news greeted me as soon as I landed in Sentani. A brief meeting with a local human rights lawyer at the airport provided me a vivid illustration of the widespread arrests and detentions in the cities of Jayapura, Fakfak, Deiyai and Timika by security forces in the aftermath of the demonstrations in each city. In Timika, the lawyer cited data showing that 33 people had been arrested with 10 still in detention since Aug. 21. Some of them experienced violence and excessive use of force ­ including being shot ­ during their arrests.

Moreover, although human rights organizations in Papua and West Papua are trying to organize legal aid and court monitoring, some more remote areas ­ such as Deiyai ­ will be too expensive to cover as police used to maximize the detention periods prior to trial.

Without intervention from civil society, the public will never know what happens there. There is a small likelihood of a fair trial, with virtually no obligation from the government for transparency. After a depressing one-hour talk, the lawyer flew to Timika to provide assistance for those 10 people.

On the way to a hotel, my driver, who had personally observed the protest on Aug. 29, described how chaotic the situation was. “It was very different from the peaceful rally on Aug. 19,” he said. “People looked more hostile, angrier and seemed prepared to make trouble.” He wished the central government was quicker in taking the right steps to calm tensions. He praised the swift move by Jayapura Mayor Benhur Tommy Mano who prevented further escalation of violence by announcing local government readiness to cover the physical damages and financial losses from the riot.

However, I spotted three trucks of the Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob) parked in the streets of the Waena area. Dozens of armed Brimob officers stood on alert along the roadside within a 200-meter perimeter, while some entered houses, climbed stairs and knocked on doors in search of new suspects under the anxious glances of Papuans outside the perimeter. I imagined the implications and the psychological effects of this scene toward fellow Papuan witnesses.

Later I joined a press conference held by the Papua Civil Society Coalition, which opened a pos pengaduan (help desk) in Jayapura for families of riot victims who were looking for information and wanted to submit reports. The initiative aims to provide the public with independent and reliable information regarding the Aug. 29 incident, as the government tended to monopolize and control the flow of information by temporarily shutting down the internet in Papua.

The statement from coalition members showed how the police restricted access to victims in the hospital even for organizations with church affiliation. The coalition also criticized government unwillingness to disclose the number of those killed or injured ­ as represented by the previous statement of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto ­ while being so fast to estimate the cost of physical destruction and financial loss in the city.

American statesman Thomas Jefferson once said that “information is the currency of democracy”. The people’s government requires a free flow of information – when data can be exchanged deliberately to provide citizens with choices, best options and a push for government accountability in addressing policy problems. Problems arise when information is controlled and its absence results in disinformation, state propaganda and repression.

Unfortunately, the government opts for the opposite way to handle the Papua issue. A security approach requires control. Control is easier to achieve through fear and there is no breeding ground of fear more fertile than secrecy.

As I turned on the television for the evening news, Wiranto was on screen to inform the public that the government has mobilized 6,000 security officers in Papua. Why so many? No explanation. For how long? No exact period was unveiled. How will the expense be covered? Zero information.

Similar patterns of strategy have been seen over and over again. In the eyes of the government, citizens-cum-taxpayers do not have the right to know. For Papua, the “why” is out of the question. After the news, my phone rang. Buchtar Tabuni, a member of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua was arrested earlier in the evening. A chill crawled up my spine. It could be anyone, anytime, for any reason as the morning scene in Waena returned to my brain.

Maybe Jefferson, as well as the journalist Edward Murrow, were right once again: “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” But we are not sheep, are we?

 

Virus-free. www.avast.com

 

etanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetanetan

Subscribe to ETAN’s email lists: https://fs20.formsite.com/jmm555/form2/index.html

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
PO Box 1663, New York, NY 10035-1663 USA
Twitter/Instagram: @etan009  Web: http://etan.org

#justice4Timor. Sign ETAN’s petition: http://bit.ly/justice4timor

 

Australia does not rule out handing over human rights lawyer to Indonesia

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-does-not-rule-out-handing-over-human-rights-lawyer-to-indonesia

 

2) Australia does not rule out handing over human rights lawyer to Indonesia

UPDATED 3 HOURS AGO BY VIRGINIA LANGEBERG

Australia has not ruled out acting on a Interpol red notice threatened against an Indonesian human rights lawyer amid political unrest in West Papua.

 

Australia has refused to rule out handing over a well-respected human rights lawyer, who specialises in West Papuan matters, to Indonesian authorities.

Veronica Koman is being threatened with an Interpol red notice, which is due to be issued Wednesday, if she doesn’t turn herself in to an Indonesian embassy in Australia.

The human rights lawyer, in hiding in Australia, is being pursued by Indonesia for disseminating evidence of security forces carrying out violence in the troubled provinces of Papua and West Papua.

 

The move has outraged human rights groups across the world and drawn criticism from a group of UN experts.

Human Rights Lawyer Jennifer Robinson told SBS News Ms Koman is being targeted by Indonesian authorities over her work for West Papuan activists.

“This is a human rights lawyer who has been defending West Papuan dissidents, she is now being prosecuted by Indonesia – that is an outrage. And the Australian government should have nothing to do with it,” Ms Robinson said.

Australian authorities have not ruled out acting on an Interpol red notice.

When asked if the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would take action on such a request, a spokesperson said it could not comment on the matter:

“INTERPOL’s Constitution prohibits progressing matters of a Political, Religious, Military or Racial nature,” the statement said.

“Each enquiry is considered and assessed on its merits and the information available.”

A Red Notice is a request to worldwide law enforcement agencies to locate and provisionally arrest a person, pending extradition to the country issuing the notice.

Continue reading

Vanuatua and Solomons raise Papua at UN Rights Council

 

Radio NZ 18/9/19

The two governments made a statement which also noted that Indonesia had not yet given access to Papua for the UN Human Rights Commissioner.

The statement was delivered at the council’s latest session by Sumbue Antas from Vanuatu’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

It followed weeks of protests and related unrest in Papua which left at least ten people dead and dozens of Papuans arrested.

The Melanesian countries told the council of their deep concern about ongoing rights violations against the freedoms of expression and assembly, as well as racial discrimination towards Papuans in the Indonesian-administered provinces of Papua and West Papua.

They echoed last week’s call from the UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, for Indonesia to protect the fundamental human rights of Papuans.

“Related to this agenda item, we are concerned about the Indonesian Government’s delay in confirming a time and date for the Human Rights Commissioner to conduct its visit to West Papua,” Mr Antas said.

For years, the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s office has been trying to secure permission from Jakarta to visit Papua region.

Indonesia’s government has indicated that, for the time being, access to Papua would remain restricted because of the security situation created by the recent unrest, which was triggered by racist harassment of Papuan students in Java last month.

Six thousand extra Indonesian military and police personnel were deployed to Papua to respond to the widespread protests. The government also implemented restrictions on internet coverage in Papua, although this was gradually being eased as of last week.

 

However, even before the current surge in unrest, Pacific Islands countries voiced frustration that Jakarta had not responded sufficiently to repeated requests by the UN Commissioner for access to Papua.

At the recent 2019 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Summit in Tuvalu, regional countries called on both Indonesia and the UN Commissioner to finalise the timing of a visit to West Papua, and to submit an evidence-based report on the situation before the next summit in 2020.

“We call on the High Commissioner and the Government of Indonesia to expedite this arrangement so an assessment on the current situation is made, and a report can be submitted to the Human Rights Council for its consideration,” Mr Antas said.

Up to seven dead in West Papua as protest turns violent

Up to seven dead in West Papua as protest turns violent

At least one Indonesian soldier and six civilians have been reportedly killed in the restive region

Protests throughout the Papuan region in Indonesia have been roiling after racist videos circulated.
Protests throughout the Papuan region in Indonesia have been roiling after racist videos circulated. Photograph: Bagus Indahono/EPA

Up to six protesters and one soldier have been killed in clashes across the restive West Papua and Papua provinces, although protesters and police dispute how many have died.

A source at one protest in the Deiyai Regency told The Guardian on Thursday that police had fired lived rounds into a crowd of demonstrators outside the regency offices on Wednesday. Six people were killed and two seriously injured, the source, who requested anonymity fearing reprisals, said.

“Shots were fired at the protesters, but people continued to sit in protest.”

Al Jazeera also reported that six protesters had been killed.

However, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said the protest by about 150 people at the Deiyai district chief’s office turned violent when more than a thousand others tried to storm the building with arrows and machetes.

Prasetyo dismissed reports of six protesters being killed as “a provocation”, but said one soldier had been killed and three police officers injured in clashes.

“Security forces are trying to control the security in the area,” he said.

Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto said in a statement that security forces managed to restore order and found two protesters had been injured, one with an arrow piercing his stomach and the other shot in the leg. Both died at a nearby hospital. A soldier died at the scene and five police and military personnel were injured, mostly by arrows.

A number of violent protests have roiled Papua since last week, triggered by videos circulated on the internet showing security forces calling Papuan students “monkeys” and “dogs” in East Java’s Surabaya city. Students say they are regularly subjected to racist slurs and abuse.

A group of 50 Papuan students in the capital, Jakarta, staged a second protest on Wednesday and called for independence for Papua, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.

Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a UN-sponsored ballot that was seen as a sham by many. Since then, a low-level insurgency has simmered in the mineral-rich region, which is divided into two provinces, Papua and West Papua. Jakarta maintains Papua and West Papua are in integral and indivisible parts of the Indonesian state.

In recent years, some Papua students, including some who study in other provinces, have become vocal in calling for self-determination for their region. Protestors told The Guardian they are demanding the UN be allowed to visit the province immediately – a fact-finding mission has been agreed to by Jakarta but has not eventuated – in order to report on alleged human rights abuses. Protestors say local and provincial government officials are unrepresentative, describing them as puppets of the Jakarta administration.

Protests in several cities in Papua and West Papua provinces have turned violent over the past week, but Prasetyo said the situation is now under control and activities have returned to normal in recent days. Students have marched in the capital Jakarta, and in West Papua’s largest city Sorong, waving the Morning Star flag, representative of the Free West Papua movement.

Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Benny Wenda, who is exiled from Indonesia, said racist discrimination against Papuans in Indonesia had fuelled Papuan desire for independence.

“Now my people are launching a second wave of demonstrations and the time has come for us to reclaim our country.”

The Indonesian government has blocked internet access in the region since last week to “accelerate the process of restoring security and order in Papua and its surrounding areas,” he said.

Verifying news from Papua and West Papua has been made difficult by the internet shutdown.

Church group calls on Jakarta to end Papua clashes

 

Church group calls on Jakarta to end Papua clashes

Thousands displaced due to conflict in restive Indonesian province are suffering and dying in camps, Franciscan group says

Church group calls on Jakarta to end Papua clashes

Children attend a class in a makeshift school run by church activists and local education officials at a refugee camp in Wamena in Papua. (Photo by Flori Geong)

 

 Church group calls on Jakarta to end Papua clashes

https://www.ucanews.com/news/church-group-calls-on-jakarta-to-end-papua-clashes/85707Benny Mawel, Jayapura  Indonesia  July 24, 2019

Thousands displaced due to conflict in restive Indonesian province are suffering and dying in camps, Franciscan group says

A church group in Papua has called on the Indonesian government to actively seek an end to clashes between the military and rebel groups in Papua that have displaced thousands and left at least a hundred people dead in the last eight months.

 

The violence flared after the rebels killed 20 workers constructing a road in Nduga district on Dec. 2, 2018.

 

The Solidarity Team for Nduga, which helps care for the refugees, said last week that about 5,000 people from about dozens of villages have yet to return to their homes.

 

It also said 139 refugees — mostly children under five years of age — have died due to disease and a lack of healthcare in refugee camps in Jayawijaya and Lanny districts, while sporadic clashes have left a number of troops and rebels dead.

 

Hipolitus Wangge, a Solidarity Team for Nduga volunteer, said at least 17 soldiers have been killed in clashes since December.

 

Yuliana Langowuyo, deputy director of Franciscan’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation said the regional and national governments must cooperate to end the conflict.

 

“The government needs to form an investigation team to find out the current situation in Nduga,” Langowuyo told ucanews.com.

 

“The government must take necessary steps to end the conflict between the military and Free Papua Movement, because in the end, it is the civilians that suffer most,” she said.

 

The Indonesian president must withdraw troops to bring peace back to Nduga so that civilians can return home, she said.

 

“However, whether they return or remain in camps, the government must preserve their rights to education and health care,” Langowuyo said.

 

Arim Tabuni, a Nduga refugee in Wamena, in Jayawijaya district said there are no health teams to handle sick refugees.

 

“What we have to do is contact nurses or doctors who work with us if someone gets sick,” he said.

 

Emus Gwiyangge, a local legislator bemoaned what he called half-hearted aid for the displaced people.

 

“Initially, the provincial government provided help in the form of food,” said Gwiyangge.

 

“But later, assistance was discontinued. Discussions to try and build peace were also stopped,” he said.

 

Another local lawmaker, Aman Jikwa, called on the government to immediately re-evaluate the presence of security forces in Nduga, because a strong military presence was deterring people from going home.

 

“When the soldiers come, people are scared,” he said.

 

Saur Tumiur Situmorang of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, echoed Jikwa’s comments.

 

“Sometimes they damage homes left by residents and open fire on livestock,” Papuan news portal Jubi.co.id quoted Situmorang as saying.

 

Military spokesman Muhamad Aidi, denied claims the military were a threat to people.

 

“Refugees yet to return to their homes are being threatened and intimidated by rebel groups, not the military,” he said.

 

“Many refugees who have returned to their homes have received assistance from the military,” he said.

—————————-