Papuans Behind Bars - May 2013

Papuans behind bars

In brief

At the end of May 2013 there were at least 76 political prisoners in Papuan jails. The first two weeks of May saw scores of demonstrators arrested for their activities commemorating 50th anniversary of the administrative transfer of Papua to Indonesia. Excessive force was used by the Indonesian security forces in relation to these commemorative activities. This led to the deaths of three activists in Sorong, 36 persons arrested of whom 30 remain in detention, and allegations of torture in Timika and Jayapura.

In the previously reported Yapen police death case, new reports have emerged of allegations of torture, with two of those arrested remaining at risk of torture in detention. Luis Gedi was conditionally released, while trials for Boas Gombo, the Yapen Indigenous Day celebrations’, the Sarmi arrests and the Biak explosives case continue. The verdicts for the Timika explosives case have been delivered.

Arrests and excessive use of force in relation to commemorative events of 1 May

During the period of 30 April to 13 May 2013, three Papuan activists were killed in Sorong, 36 were arrested in Timika, Sorong, Biak, Abepura and Jayapura, with 30 remaining in detention. At least 12 people suffered injuries as a result of the brutal treatment of demonstrators by Indonesian security forces responding to the commemoration of 1 May which this year marked the 50th anniversary of the administrative transfer of Papua to Indonesia in 1963. The Indonesian authorities issued a statement beforehand banning 1 May demonstrations, a violation of the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly as guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution.

On 30 April, at around 17:00 East Indonesia time, a gathering of community members took place at the house of Isak Klaibin in Aimas district in Sorong, with the intention of commemorating 1 May. Reports from human rights sources state that police and military forces in four vehicles arrived at around 20:00, surrounding the house. The security forces fired several warning shots, which agitated the demonstrators who then proceeded towards the vehicles. Human rights groups report that the security forces responded by firing into the crowd for 20 minutes, causing the deaths of two activists, Apner Malagawak and Thomas Blesia.

Seven people were arrested – Isak Klaibin, Klemens Kodimko, Obeth Kamesrar, Antonius Safuf, Obaja Kamesrar, Yordan Magablo and Hengky Mangamis – following this incident, and have been charged with treason under Articles 106, 107, 108, 110, 160 and 164 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. Isak Klaibin is also accused of being a TPN-OPM leader. According to Yan Christian Warinussy, Director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) which is accompanying the seven activists who are currently detained in Sorong police station, the police have cited Article 115 of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code in attempts to hinder their access to legal counsel. Article 115 states that in cases of individuals suspected of treason, lawyers may observe the interrogation but may not actually hear what is being said. Warinussy has stated that the police do not normally invoke this Article in such cases.

Local human rights investigators report that at least two demonstrators suffered injuries during the shootings. Herman Lokden, who was shot in the back, is in critical condition while Andareas Safisa sustained injuries from being shot in the foot. LP3BH investigators in Manokwari have reported that after intensive investigations, there is a strong indication that Indonesian security forces have acted illegally by firing into the crowd without warning, which is a gross violation of human rights.

A third activist, Salomina Klaibin, the sister of Isak Klaibin, who was shot in the stomach, thigh and shoulder died in hospital a few days later. Local human rights investigators have reported suspicious circumstances surrounding Salomina’s death, stating that she seemed to be on her way to recovery following an operation on 3 May and was even told by her doctor on 7 May that she would be discharged the following day. On 7 May, at around 11:00, the Chief and Deputy Chief of Sorong district police visited Salomina in hospital. Local sources reported that at the time of this visit, police prevented Salomina’s family from entering her room. Prior to this, security forces had allegedly visited Salomina in hospital to question her though they failed to obtain any information. The security forces reportedly asked her about her brother, Isak Klaibin, who is currently in police detention. Eyewitness testimony from her family alleges that on the night of 7 May around 21:00, a man dressed in a doctor’s coat and black jeans, came into Salomina Klaibin’s room with a syringe filled with a black substance. Without any explanation, the man allegedly injected the substance in the syringe into her intravenous drip, and then left the room in a hurry. Local sources reported that a few minutes later, Salomina started convulsing and wet herself on the bed. The hospital staff attempted to resuscitate her but she died shortly after at 23:20. Human rights group LP3BH has called for an autopsy to be carried out.

On 1 May in Timika, a group of civilians conducted a commemorative ceremony at which the Morning Star flag was raised, resulting in the arrests of at least 15 people, who are allegedly at risk of torture. Local activists have reported that out of the 15 who are currently detained in Mimika police station – Domi Mom, Altinus Uamang, Musa Elas, Jhoni Niwilingame, Hari Natal Magai, Jhon Kum, Semuil Deikme, Miryam Stenamun, Mon Deikme, Aminus Hagabal, Yakob Onawame, Heri Onawame, Biru Kogoya, Beanal and Alpon – at least ten are reportedly facing treason charges. Local human rights investigators have reported that at least two civilians were injured in this incident when security forces fired into the crowd. Local activists have also reported that during a visit to Mimika police station, they were not allowed to see five of the detainees who were separated from the others. It is unclear if the 15 civilians have legal representation at the time of writing.

According to human rights sources, similar events in Biak led to the arrests of at least six activists, five of whom have been named. On 1 May, police opened fire into a crowd of 50 people gathered for a flag-raising ceremony. Local human rights sources report that at least one person was hurt in the incident. Local sources have also reported that Oktofianus Warnares, who led the flag-raising ceremony, has been arrested along with Yosepus Arwakon, George Syors Simyapen, Yona Rumawak and John Sauyas. It is unclear what charges they are facing and if they have legal representation.

Local activists have reported the arrest of West Papua National Committee (Komisi Nasional Papua Barat) leader for Sorong region, Martinus Yohami, on 1 May while giving a speech during a peaceful demonstration. It is unclear if he is facing any charges or has legal representation. Markus Yenu who, as reported in the April Update, was targeted by the police in relation to his involvement in peaceful demonstrations was again pursued for arrest on 1 May by the police. Local human rights sources report that police moved to arrest him during a commemorative march in Jayapura, but protestors positioned themselves between Markus and the police, allowing him to disappear into the crowd.

On 13 May, in reaction to the deaths, arrests and injuries from the commemorative events of 1 May, a coalition of human rights groups and civil society organisations carried out province-wide demonstrations demanding accountability from the government. In Jayapura, protestors gathered outside the Cenderawasih University in preparation for a march, but were stopped by police. Independent Papuan news site Majalah Selangkah reported the arrest of KNPB leader Victor Yeimo, who attempted to negotiate with the police to allow the march to proceed, and three other activists: Yongky Ulimpa, Ely Kobak and Marthen Manggaprouw. A report received from local activists present at the demonstration states that all four activists were severely beaten upon arrest and that they were allegedly hit with rattan canes, and kicked and beaten in detention. Local activists also reported the arrests and ill-treatment of three other activists: Nius Matuan, Wily Kombo and Markus Giban, all of whom are students at Cenderawasih University. Papuan news site Suara Papua reported the alleged torture in detention of Markus Giban by Jayapura police, resulting in the university student suffering from a broken arm. Local sources state that six of the activists (all but Victor Yeimo), were allegedly threatened by the police with charges of treason, but were released several hours later when no evidence could be found against them.

Victor Yeimo has been transferred to Abepura prison where he remains in detention. Local sources report that he has been held in relation to a previous case in 2009, when he was sentenced to one year imprisonment for his involvement in a peaceful demonstration. Victor Yeimo reportedly served nine months of this sentence. He is expected to complete the rest of his prison sentence from 2009, though the length of this remaining sentence is disputed. Victor is receiving legal accompaniment from his lawyer Manfret Naa.

Oktovianus Pogau, a journalist with Suara Papua, reported police using excessive force on the crowd of demonstrators at Cenderawasih University, severely beating them and destroying several motorcycles during an attempt to disperse the protestors. Following this event, local activists have reported an increase in the presence of security forces in Sentani, Abepura and Jayapura Kota. Mobilised tanks and police vehicles are said to be carrying teargas equipment and water cannons.

Last year, 13 people were arrested in similar events on 1 May 2012 for their participation in a demonstration commemorating 1 May at which the Morning Star flag was raised. All were released with the exception of Timur Wakerkwa and Darius Kogoya who were convicted of treason and continue to serve three-year and two-and-a-half year prison sentences respectively. Human rights groups have highlighted the deterioration in the human rights situation in Papua by comparing the response to the commemorative events of other years.
More arrests in relation to Yapen police death

Local human rights investigators have reported the arrests of four more civilians who have allegedly been tortured in relation to the death of Jefri Sesa, a Yapen police officer. On 3 May 2013, Astro Kaaba was arrested by police special force officers allegedly under the directions of Yapen police. He was brought to Yapen police station where he was reportedly severely tortured until he lost consciousness for close to 20 hours. Local sources have reported that 17-year old Hans Aronggear has also been arrested and allegedly tortured in relation to this case. Yahya Bonay, Hans Aronggear and Astro Kaaba are undergoing investigation and are currently detained at Serui police station, reportedly facing charges of treason. Sources have also reported the arrests of two civilians, Luis Samai and Musa Samai, who have been released and are currently in critical condition after being severely tortured. It is unclear whether the three men who remain in detention have access to legal representation.
Radio host arrested in Manokwari

On 3 May 2013, Dimas Anggoro, a radio host for Radio Matoa FM based in Manokwari, was reportedly arrested for discussing the issue of financial difficulties faced by the Manokwari district office on air. Criticism of an Indonesian official in Papua was also allegedly expressed on the show. Anggoro was accompanied to the Sanggeng police station, where he is believed to be detained, by colleagues from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (Aliansi Jurnalis Independen, AJI). Wally Jack, an AJI coordinator in Jayapura, reportedly called on Indonesian authorities to refer to existing press laws rather than resort to arrest. He specifically quoted Law No. 40 on the press that refers to the use of the existing complaints procedure where a person or group feels aggrieved over a news item. A press release by the Pacific Freedom Forum stated that there were concerns for the safety of Anggora and his associates, as little news has been received since his arrest.
Luis Gedi released

Luis Gedi has been released from Abepura prison on the condition that he reports monthly to the police for approximately the next three years. Gedi was serving a 15-year sentence after being charged under Articles 212 and 214 in relation to violence which occurred on 16 March 2006. Clashes between demonstrators demanding the closure of the Freeport mine and security forces erupted leaving three policemen and one Air Force intelligence officer dead. Gedi was amongst the 23 people charged in relation to this incident. The torture he was subjected to on 16 and 17 April 2006 has been documented by the Indonesian Working Group on Advocacy against Torture. It included being burnt with cigarettes and beaten with wooden beams. Human rights investigators have reported how Gedi, under torture, confessed to the killing of policeman Rahman Arizona and gave the name of his friend, Ferdinand Pakage. Pakage is still currently serving a 15-year sentence in Abepura prison.
Political trials and cases overview
Yapen Indigenous Day Celebrations case: Unfair trial

On 8 May 2013, the trial of Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboi in the Yapen Indigenous Day Celebrations case resumed, with the court hearing witness statements. Local activists have reported that during the court session, the Prosecutor asked police who were present to confiscate all cameras and mobile phones belonging to observers, resulting in tension in the courtroom. Local investigators stated that the situation returned to normal when the police guaranteed to return the items later.

As previously reported in the April Update, Prosecutor Matius Matulesi called on ex political-prisoner Jon Nuntian, and Jamal Omrik Manitori, to testify against Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboi. Local human rights sources report that Manitori was forced by Matulesi to sign a letter agreeing to be a witness to the case. Manitori refused to accede to this and did not testify against Kendi and Maniamboi. However, local sources report that statements allegedly made by Jon Nuntian against Kendi and Maniamboi as recorded in police minutes of the case were read out by the Prosecutor. The Prosecutor reportedly declared that the examination of witnesses was complete though there were four other witnesses who were not present as they were out of town. On 16 May, the agenda was set for the hearing of the testimony of Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboi, but the hearing was postponed reportedly due to the absence of members of the prosecution team.

Local activists reported that the next hearing on 20 May, which proceeded with the testimony of the two defendants, revealed that the police investigation report was flawed and it was thus rejected by the defendants. It also became clear that Kendi and Maniamboi did not receive legal accompaniment during the investigation and that despite this, they were not informed by the police that the legal investigation report was signed by their lawyer. The hearing also reportedly saw the Prosecutor putting forth photographic and video evidence of a demonstration led by the two accused in Jayapura while claiming that the material showed evidence of their participation in a demonstration in Serui. This was rejected by the lawyers of the two activists. They stated that the so-called evidence had no relation to the case at hand which involved the demonstrations held on 1 May 2012 and 9 August 2012 in Serui, Yapen island.

The next hearing, scheduled for 28 May, to proceed with the Prosecutor’s indictment against the two activists, was postponed to 4 June 2013, reportedly because the indictment had not been received by the Serui District Court from the Jayapura High Court.
Trial begins for Boas Gombo, denied access to legal counsel

The trial of Boas Gombo, who was arrested on 28 February 2013 at the border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, has reportedly begun despite the lack of a defence counsel for Gombo. Local human rights lawyers have reported that they have requested for Gombo to be accompanied by legal counsel, but that the trial had reportedly gone ahead nonetheless.
Trial continues for Sarmi arrests

In the April Update, Papuans Behind Bars had not yet received enough information to confirm if Isak Demetouw (Alex Makabori), Daniel Norotouw, Niko Sasomar and Sileman Teno can be considered as political prisoners. New information received from local human rights sources indicate that this can now be confirmed, in light of reports that the four men, who were arrested on 3 March 2013, have allegedly been charged under fabricated charges by a joint military and police task force in Sarmi.

According to their version of events, given in an interview with a local activist, the four men headed to Sarmi from Jayapura on 1 March with the intention of carrying out a socialisation event for residents in Sarmi, aimed at raising awareness regarding political developments in Papua and violations that have occurred during the ongoing conflict. A local source has reported that this event took place on 2 March, from 19:00 to 20:30 local time, during which the four men received information that the Indonesian military were aware of their whereabouts and activity. The four men state that on 3 March the army task force pursued them in Yanma village, where they were allegedly arrested without a search warrant and handled in a brutal manner. They also allege that the military and police authorities planted evidence in order to charge them, including bottles of medicine, weapons and TPN/OPM documents. During interrogation, the four men allegedly faced intimidation and death threats from security officials and were denied access to lawyers.

Human rights lawyers reported that the men were charged with treason and conspiracy to commit violence under Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code. Local sources state that from the date of their arrest, the four men were detained in Sarmi police station for 21 days, after which an extension of detention until 3 May was issued. On 28 April they were transferred to the Regional Papua police station for further detention. On 3 May, their case was referred to the Public Prosecutor and they were then transferred to Abepura prison, where they are currently detained, awaiting their trial which will be heard at the Jayapura District Court.

Verdict scheduled for Biak explosives trial

As reported in the March Update, an appeal submitted by the defence lawyers for KNPB activists Paulus Alua and Bastian Mansoben, who were charged under Emergency Law 12/1951 for possession of explosives, was rejected by the court. Human rights lawyers have reported that the verdict for this case will be delivered by the Biak District Court on 11 June 2013.
Verdicts delivered for Timika Six

On 14 May 2013, the verdict was delivered for the six KNPB Timika activists – Stephen Itlay, Romario Yatipai, Paulus Marsyom, Alfret Marsyom, Jack Wansior and Yantho Awerkion – who were charged with treason. They were sentenced to 8 months in prison, less time already spent in detention and are expected to be released in June 2013. Human rights lawyers stated that Yantho Awerkion, who faced an additional primary charge of possession of explosives, would not be given an additional prison sentence on top of the initial 8-month sentence. This decision comes despite the court reportedly finding him guilty of possession of explosives.
Period of detention for Jamal Omrik Manitori extended until 22 June 2013

Local human rights investigators have reported that in the Serui TPN case, the Public Prosecutor has submitted an appeal demanding a longer sentence for Jamal Omrik Manitori than the one-year prison sentence decided by the court. Manitori, who has been detained since 3 July 2012, is currently undergoing a second period of detention lasting 60 days, from 1 May to 22 June 2013, during the appeals process.

National civil society and international community respond to brutal events of 1 May

On 2 May 2013, following commemorative events of 1 May (see ‘Arrests’), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, voiced concern over the suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force on demonstrators in Papua, calling on the Indonesian government to allow peaceful protests and hold accountable those responsible for the violence. She called on the government to implement the recommendations put forward by the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) regarding freedom of expression and underlined the lack of transparency in addressing serious human rights violations in Papua.

On 4 May, a joint statement issued by NAPAS, KontraS, Sekretariat Bersama (SEKBER Buruh), Politik Rakyat, Perempuan Mahardhika, Forum Mahasiswa Demokrasi (FORMAD), KPO-Perjuangan Rakyat Pekerja (KPO-PRP) and Yayasan Pusaka, urged the Indonesian government to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident in Aimas district, Sorong (see ‘Arrests’), to immediately release all activists and to repeal Regulation 77/2007, which has been used to stigmatise Papuans as separatists. A coalition of 11 international organisations consisting of TAPOL, the International Coalition for Papua, Survival International, Franciscans International, West Papua Advocacy Team, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, West Papua Action Auckland, Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), Peace Movement Aorearoa, Pacific Media Centre and Pacific Scoop submitted an appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, to take action by raising the issue with the Indonesian government. The appeal highlighted the killing, arbitrary arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protestors in Papua between 30 April and 13 May.
Papuan political prisoners reject SBY offer of clemency

Yunus Wonda, a deputy speaker of the Papuan provincial legislature has stated that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will reportedly offer all political prisoners in Papua clemency under the government’s ‘special autonomy plus’ program. This offer came about during a meeting at Wonda’s private residence which was attended by Papuan figures including Papua Governor Lukas Enembe. In reaction to this offer, 25 political prisoners in Abepura prison put forth a statement strongly rejecting clemency. The statement, which amongst others included signatures from Victor Yeimo, Dominikus Surabut, Daniel Gobay, Timus Wakerkwa and Boas Gombo, called for political rights and stated that any offer of amnesty or clemency offered by the Indonesian president would be rejected. An explanatory statement signed by Selpius Bobii, stated that their position as political prisoners informed the international community of the situation in Papua and called for “real steps to bring an end to the status of the Papuan political and legal dispute.” Filep Karma has also reportedly rejected the term ‘Narapidana Politik (napol)’or convicted political prisoners, as it suggests that acts of violence were committed, when the vast majority of political prisoners are being held because of their political beliefs.
OMCT issues urgent appeal on behalf of Matan Klembiap

On 27 May 2013, the International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) issued an urgent appeal on behalf of Matan Klembiap, who is currently detained in Abepura prison where he is awaiting trial. The appeal highlighted the extensive torture Klembiap was subjected to and urges competent authorities, amongst other things, to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Klembiap and to carry out prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into these allegations. Newly received information from local human rights sources indicates that Klembiap is at risk of physical and mental disability after enduring severe torture during his detention at Jayapura police station from 15 to 18 February 2013.
NAPAS and Kontras march

On 16 May, activists from National Papua Solidarity (NAPAS) and the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Komisi Untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan, KontraS), held a public discussion on political prisoners, marking the launch of Papuans Behind Bars in Jakarta. The discussion, which was held in the Jakarta offices of KontraS, challenged statements previously made by the authorities, including the Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto that there are no political prisoners in Papua. It also addressed the use of Articles 106 to 110 of the Criminal Code to target activists and political prisoners’ inadequate access to healthcare. The event featured interactive discussions with the Deputy Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Denny Indrayana, and Albert Hasibuan, the chief legal advisor to the President on Law and Human Rights. Following the public discussion, activists from KontraS and NAPAS marched to the Coordinating Ministry of Legal, Political and Security Affairs and to the Presidential Palace to demand the release of Papuan political prisoners.


Papuans Behind Bars aims to provide accurate and transparent data, published in English and Indonesian, to facilitate direct support for prisoners and promote wider debate and campaigning in support of free expression in West Papua.

Papuans Behind Bars is a collective project initiated by Papuan civil society groups working together as the Civil Society Coalition to Uphold Law and Human Rights in Papua. It is a grassroots initiative and represents a broad collaboration between lawyers, human rights groups, adat groups, activists, journalists and individuals in West Papua, as well as Jakarta-based NGOs and international solidarity groups.

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