Update Anti-Racism Protests: 93 protestors and activists charged within the past two months

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According to the spokesperson of the Papuan Regional Police, Commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal, the police has pressed criminal charges against 93 protestors and activists due 10 October 2019. All prosecutions occurred within a timeframe of two months. The number excludes a series of arrests that occurred in Jakarta in early September 2019. The majority of prosecutions occurred in relation to the anti-racism riots in the Papuan cities of Jayapura,  Wamena and Waghete as well as the violent dispersal of a demonstration by Papuan students in Waena, a suburb of Jayapura.

Jayapura Riots
The police pressed criminal charges against 27 suspects for the alleged involvement in acts of vandalism and arson in the city of Jayapura. The demonstration took place on 29 August 2019 and led to the destruction of the Papuan Peoples Council building, office buildings and shops. The suspects were charged with the articles 160, 170, 365, 64 of the Indonesian criminal code (KUHP) and violation of the Emergency Law 12/1951. Several other suspects are currently under investigation and might face similar charges. 

Besides the protesters, the police also arrested seven members of the political pro-independence movements ‘West Papua National Committee’ (KNPB) and the ‘United Liberation Movement for West Papua’ (ULMWP). ULMWP member 'Buchtar Tabuni' (see intro image) and the KNPB members Agus Kosay, Fery Kombo, Alexander Gobay, Steven Itlai, Hengki Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmabin were charged with treason and temporarily detained in Jayapura. The police claim that the activists acted as ‘masterminds’ of the Papua-wide anti-racism protests and the outbreaks of violence in several Papuan cities. On 4 October 2019, the police transferred the seven activists from Jayapura to East Kalimantan, arguing that the security situation in West Papua would not allow smooth legal proceedings of the cases there. According to information received, police officers tricked the suspects to sign a consent letter without reading the content.

The coalition of human rights lawyers, which represented the suspects in Jayapura, protested against the transfer. The lawyers understood the transfer as an attempt to obstruct the provision of legal support, arguing that the transfer violates article 85 of the Indonesian criminal procedure code (KUHAP), stating that a transfer of suspects can only be proposed by the head of district court or head of district attorney to the supreme court. This was not the case as police investigations against the seven activists are ongoing and the cases were not yet handed over to the public prosecution. The coalition issued a complaint against the Papuan Regional Police Chief to the Papuan Representative Office of the Indonesian Ombudsman.

Crackdown on student protest in Waena, Jayapura
The police also pressed criminal charges against 13 Papuan students in relation to outbreaks of violence during a student protest in Waena on 23 September 2019, which resulted in the deaths of the students Ason Mujijau, Eremanus Wesareak, Jery Murib and Otier Wenda as well as one security force member.

Six of them were charged with multiple articles on treason, mayhem and incitement. They were detained at the Police Mobile Brigade headquarters in Kotaraja, Jayapura.

Assa Asso was charged with articles 106 KUHP (treason) in conjunction with article 87 KUHP; and or article 110 KUHP (treason), and or article 14 (1), (2) and article 15 of Law No 1/1946, and or article 66 of Law No 24/2009, and or article 160 KUHP (incitement), and or article 187 KUHP, and or article 365 KUHP, and or article 170 (1) KUHP, and or article 2 of Law No 12/1951 in conjunction with article 64 KUHP.

Yogi Wenda was charged with article 170 (2) KUHP and article 212 KUHP and or article 53 KUHP.

Abraham Dote was charged with article 160 KUHP (incitement) and or article 187 KUHP, and or article 365 KUHP, and or article 170 (1) KUHP, and or article 2 of Law No 12/1951 in conjunction with article 64 KUHP.

Jembrif Kogoya, Elimus Bayage and Yandu Kogoya were charged with article 170 (2) KUHP and article 212 KUHP.

Crackdown in Waghete, Deiyai Regency
A team of human rights lawyers is providing legal support to 16 suspects, who were arrested in relation to the anti-racism riots in Waghete, Deiyai regency, which took place in 28 August 2019.  Meanwhile, five suspects were temporarily released while eight others are still being detained at the Paniai district police station. The police are investigating the 13 protesters. Three suspects are still undergoing medical treatment in the General hospital in Madi, Paniai regency. They are still recovering from the bullet injuries sustained as security force members dispersed the riot opening fire at the crowd. The police will investigate them after they have fully recovered.

Riots in Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency
The Jayawijaya district police conducted widespread raids in the town of Wamena after the anti-racism riots on 23 September 2019. So far, 19 persons are under investigation – among them are many students and pupils. Fifteen of them are currently in custody. The police announced that they will press criminal charges under article 170 KUHP concerning mayhem, punishable with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment, article 160 KUHP concerning incitement, punishable with a maximum sentence of 6 years imprisonment, article 187 KUHP concerning arson causing danger to other people's lives, which is punishable with a maximum sentence of 12 years imprisonment. The police issued arrest warrants against four more persons. It is expected that the police will carry out further arrests against activists.

The police seized traditional weapons such as bows and arrows as well as machetes and axes as evidence of the involvement in the riots. The tools and traditional weapons are both commonly found in households of indigenous Papuans and do not necessarily indicate involvement in criminal acts. Bow and arrows are carried in customary ceremonies as part of the cultural identity. Machetes and axes are commonly used for the maintenance of gardens.

The number of prosecutions in Wamena is likely to rise, as the investigations by the Jayawijaya District Police are still ongoing. It is expected that the police will target political activists in Jayawijaya. The Jayawijaya District Police Chief stated in a public interview that his men are still tracking down the master minds behind the outbreaks of violence on 23 September 2019.