Papuans Behind Bars: June Update

Papuans Behind Bars: June 2013

In brief

At the end of June 2013 there were at least 57 political prisoners in Papuan jails. There were four new arrests this month, all of whom have been released without charge. Reports from local human rights sources have revealed new details regarding the arrests of four further political prisoners who are already in jail, who were either previously undocumented or little were known about. Many of these reports shed light on the brutal torture inflicted on political prisoners by security forces. 23 releases have been reported, including those of the six KNPB activists in the Timika explosives case and 11 of the 16 arrested in the case of the Timika 1 May commemoration.

The remaining five detained in the Timika 1 May case, as well as the seven Aimas detainees who are facing charges of treason and currently awaiting trial. Having been arrested on 13 May 2013, Victor Yeimo is now being held in order to complete a three-year sentence handed down in 2009. The verdict for Boas Gombo and the Biak explosives case has been delivered and the trial for the Yapen Indigenous People’s Day celebration case continues. There have also been reports of assassination attempts on the family of political prisoner Matan Klembiap.


Report reveals details behind arrest of Jefri Wandikbo
A new report from local human rights sources has revealed details of the arrest and trial of Jefri Wandikbo, an activist with the West Papua National Committee (Komisi Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) who was arrested on 7 June 2012 alongside Buchtar Tabuni and Assa Alua. Wandikbo is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Abepura prison. The men were reportedly on their way back from a meeting with the Papua Provincial Legislative Council, when they were stopped and searched by the police in a sweeping operation. Upon finding a cassowary bone dagger (a traditional Papuan tool) in Wandikbo’s bag, he was brought to the Jayapura Regional police station for interrogation. According to Wandikbo, he had obtained the dagger at Sentani market to send to his parents in Wamena for household use. On 21 November 2012, Wandikbo was sentenced to 10 months in prison for possession of sharp weapons under Emergency Law 12/1951 for carrying the cassowary bone dagger in his bag at the time of his arrest.

Having arrested Wandikbo on the basis of the cassowary dagger, during interrogations at the Jayapura Regional police station, police then accused Wandikbo of being involved in the murder of a taxi driver in Waena on 22 May 2012, and tortured him in order to get him to confess to the crime. Other names allegedly mentioned in connection to the murder included Mako Tabuni, Zakheus Wakla, Slamat Kossay and Dany Wenda. The report alleges that Wandikbo’s hands and feet were crushed under the weight of a heavy table, he was stripped and his genitals were repeatedly stabbed with the end of a broomstick. Wandikbo was denied legal accompaniment during the interrogation, and was forced to sign the Police Investigation Report under threat of death if he refused.

Police claim that the alleged murder took place on 22 May 2012 in Waena, but Wandikbo claims that between 10 April 2012 and 30 May 2012 he was in Wamena, visiting his parents. On 19 December 2012, Wandikbo was sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment for the alleged murder under Articles 340 and 56 of the Indonesian Criminal Code and Law 8/1981. His lawyers submitted an appeal to the High Court and a review to the Supreme Court, but both were rejected.

Human rights activist tortured and isolated, denied fair trial
A report provided by a local human rights activist to Papuans Behind Bars details the arrest and alleged torture faced by Andinus Karoba, an activist belonging to the Koteka Council of Indigenous Peoples (Dewan Masyarakat Adat Koteka, Demmak). Karoba liaises with Demmak members in Jayapura, and those in Papua New Guinea who escaped from military attacks in the Baliem valley in 1977. On 10 October 2012, Karoba was stopped and forcibly arrested by police intelligence officers who took him to Jayapura Regional Police Station. On the way to the police station, Karoba was shot three times in the calf and thigh while his hands and feet were tied. He was detained and kept in isolation for two months in Jayapura Regional Police Station while awaiting trial, and was allegedly handcuffed throughout the duration of his detention. He was also reportedly denied family visits and was not given medical treatment for his gunshot wounds.

Karoba was charged with theft accompanied by use of force under article Article 365(2) of the Indonesian Criminal Code and Law 8/1981. The report states that despite these allegations, police interrogated him regarding pro-independence activities, unrelated to any suspicions of theft and that there was no mention of stolen items in the police investigation report. Karoba was reportedly not accompanied by a lawyer during his trial and family members were not allowed to attend the trial. He was sentenced to 1 year and 10 months imprisonment. Following the verdict, Karoba was transferred to Abepura prison where he currently remains.

According to Karoba, he was reportedly targeted by the police due to his family history. His family was part of a mass exodus to Papua New Guinea that escaped Indonesian military brutality in 1977 and as a consequence he was allegedly branded as a member of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM). The report claims that Karoba’s work with Demmak caused police to single him out as a target for arrest.

Puncak Jaya activist arrested, denied legal representation
Newly received information from a local human rights investigator have reported that Yogor Telenggen, an activist from Puncak Jaya, was arrested on 10 March 2013 in Waena, accused of shootings last year against the Indonesian military. Telenggen, who is currently detained in Papua Provincial Police Station, has been charged with Articles 340, 338, 170, 251 and Emergency Law 12/1951 for violent crime and possession of ammunition. Telenggen was allegedly severely beaten by police upon arrest. The same human rights source reports that accusations towards Telenggen come from a local official in Puncak Jaya, and there is reportedly no evidence indicating his involvement in the shootings. He has also reportedly been denied legal representation during interrogations.

Arbitrary arrest and torture of Athys Wenda
A new report by local human rights investigators has revealed that Athys Wenda, who was previously thought to be facing trial with seven other KNPB activists in connection to the Wamena explosives case, is instead facing separate charges in connection with an unrelated case. Wenda was arrested on 1 December 2012 in Wamena, and it seems that after being held in the Wamena police station for some time, must have been released without charge, and has since been rearrested for a different incident. He is currently facing charges of violent crime under Article 170 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. Wenda, an activist who was involved in peaceful demonstrations from 2009 to 2012, appears to have become a target for police arrests.

On 4 April 2013 at around 18:30 local time in Waena, Wenda was hit on the spine by an unidentified man, causing him to faint. He regained consciousness several minutes later when Waena police arrived at the scene and brought both the unidentified assailant and Wenda to the Waena police station. Sources report that after 30 minutes at the police station, the assailant was released from police custody while Wenda continued to be detained. When Wenda questioned this, police allegedly responded with brutality, torturing him. He was reportedly stabbed in the ears and hand with a bayonet and his legs were beaten with wooden beams. Wenda was transferred to Abepura District Police Station the same night to undergo further investigations. He was allegedly denied medical treatment for the injuries he sustained. The report states that throughout the interrogation process, Wenda did not have access to legal counsel. He has since been transferred to Abepura Prison while awaiting trial. It is reported that the indictment hearing will take place on 27 June 2013.

KNPB activists detained prior to peaceful demonstration in Sentani
On 10 June 2012 at around 11:30 Papua time, three KNPB activists were arrested in front of the KNPB Sentani Secretariat and released several hours later. Ogram Wanimbo, Agus Mabel and Timo Alua were reportedly arrested without an arrest warrant, some distance away from a crowd that was preparing to carry out a demonstration in support of full membership for West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). The three activists were brought to Jayapura Regional Police Station for interrogation and were reportedly released several hours later. It is unclear whether they face any charges.

Buchtar Tabuni arrested and severely beaten in Jayapura
On 12 June 2013 at around 11:00 Papua time, KNPB leader Buchtar Tabuni, was arrested and reportedly severely beaten by Papuan Provincial police, only to be released without charge three hours later. Tabuni was on his way to a football match when armed police under the command of Police Commissioner Kiki Kurnia stopped the vehicle Tabuni was in and forcibly arrested him. According to reports from local activists, Tabuni was severely beaten with rifle butts resulting in wounds to the head, ears, lower back and a split lip. This brutality allegedly continued in detention, until he was released at around 14:00 the same day. Gede Sumerta, spokesperson for the Papuan Provincial Police claimed that police wanted to question Tabuni regarding his involvement in a demonstration organised by Cenderawasih University students the same day.


Civilians arrested in Paniai released
Information supplied by email from an independent human rights activist reports that the four civilians arbitrarily arrested in Paniai in March and April were each released after having been detained for a week. Yosia Karoba, arrested on 1 April 2013 and Nonggop Tabuni, Delemu Enumby and Jelek Enembe, arrested on 9 March 2013, were released without charge. As reported previously in the February and March Updates, following the Puncak Jaya shootings in February there were numerous reports of arbitrary arrests of innocent civilians, many of whom suffered ill-treatment or torture in detention only to be released without charge shortly after.

Timika Six released
The six KNPB Timika activists who were sentenced to eight months’ under treason charges have been released. Despite the court finding Yantho Awerkion, one of the six activists, guilty of an additional charge of possession of explosives, he was not sentenced to an additional prison sentence. Immediately following their release, the six activists attended a thanksgiving worship service in celebration of their release and in support of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) conference that took place from 17 to 23 June 2013.

Manokwari radio host released
Local journalists have reported that Dimas Anggoro, who was arrested on 3 May 2013 for criticizing the local administration in Manokwari has been released. The radio host has reportedly demanded the right to broadcast his views on air.

Sorong KNPB leader released
As reported in the May Update, Martinus Yohami, the leader of the KNPB Sorong was arrested during a peaceful demonstration on 1 May 2013. An independent local human rights activist has confirmed that Martinus was detained for several hours before being released without charge.

Political trials and cases overview

Five new Timika detainees to be tried for treason
Human rights lawyers have reported that 11 of the 16 people who were arrested in Timika for raising the Morning Star flag have been released. Five people – Domi Mom, Musa Elas, Yacob Onowame, Alfisu Wamang and Eminus Waker – are currently still detained in Mile 32 Timika Police Station. They are reportedly facing charges of treason.

Aimas activists facing charges of treason for 1 May commemoration
Institute for Research Study and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH) investigators in Manokwari have reported that the case of the seven people arrested in Sorong for their peaceful activities commemorating 1 May – Isak Klaibin, Klemens Kodimko, Obeth Kamesrar, Antonius Safuf, Obaja Kamesrar, Yordan Magablo and Hengky Mangamis – has been transferred to the Sorong District Prosecutor. The seven activists are facing charges of treason under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. A spokesperson from LP3BH has reported that an expanded legal team will be representing the Sorong activists.

Three-year prison sentence for Victor Yeimo
As reported in the May Update, Victor Yeimo, who was arrested on 13 May 2013 while negotiating with police to allow a march demanding accountability to take place, is now being held on the basis of a previous three-year sentence handed down in 2009, which he had not fully served. Human rights lawyers have confirmed that Yeimo is expected to complete the rest of a three-year sentence.

Civilian detained for Indonesian flag incident severely beaten, denied lawyer and sentenced to nine months
We have received a new report documenting the arrest of Boas Gombo at a police post in Maura Tami district in Jayapura, at the Papua New Guinea border. On 27 February at around 15:00 local time, on his way back to Yako Vanimo in Papua New Guinea, Gombo was allegedly stopped and severely beaten by Nurdin Makuasang, an Indonesian police official stationed at the border. Gombo escaped to Yako Vanimo, reportedly returning the next day to confront the police official about the abuse inflicted on him. Sources report that Gombo lowered and screwed up the Indonesian flag that was flying at the post, while shouting protests against police brutality in Papua in front of the immigration officials. He was arrested and detained overnight at the Muara Tami District Police Station.

In detention Gombo was handcuffed and severely beaten with rattan sticks, metal beams and rifle butts, and kicked by officers wearing jackboots. This resulted in injuries including a torn lower lip, mouth injuries, a crushed ankle and wounds on his knees. The following day on 1 March, he was transferred to Jayapura Resort Police Station where he was interrogated for two days. At the time of interrogation he was not given access to legal counsel. At the end of the interrogation, he was detained in a cell in the police station while in a deteriorating condition as a result of the ill treatment he had endured the previous day. He was denied access to medical attention and visits from his family. On 8 April, his case was transferred to the Public Prosecutor and he was moved to Abepura prison where he is currently detained.

The reports states that Gombo’s trial took place despite the lack of legal accompaniment. Despite requests from human rights lawyers for Gombo to be accompanied by legal counsel, none had been provided and the trial had gone ahead nonetheless. On 2 July, he was sentenced to nine months minus time already spent in detention and was charged under Articles 24 and 66 of Law 24/2009 on the Flag, Language, Symbols of the State and the National Anthem, which carried a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment. Gombo is expected to be released in November 2013.

Verdict for Biak explosives case delivered
Human rights lawyers have reported that KNPB activist Bastian Mansoben has been convicted under Emergency Law 12/1951 for possession of explosives, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, while Paulus Alua, who faced similar charges, has been released without charge. Mansoben was arrested at gunpoint and tortured by police, who hit him in the mouth with their guns. He was then brought to the police station where he suffered more beatings in detention, being forced to lie down and kicked by several police officers. As reported in the May Update, despite claims by their lawyers of a lack of evidence, appeals made for a lesser sentence were rejected.

Prosecutor demands heavy sentence for peaceful activists
The Public Prosecutor in the case of the Yapen Indigenous People’s Day Celebrations, has demanded a sentence of 6 and 5 years’ imprisonment respectively for Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboi. Their lawyers submitted a plea on 27 June 2013. The verdict is expected to be delivered in July.

Case of concern

Assassination attempt on families of political prisoner Matan Klembiap
A report provided by human rights investigators to Papuans Behind Bars has revealed the attempted assassination of Dominggas Kromsian, wife of political prisoner Matan Klembiap, and their children. On the night of 24 May 2013, a man wielding a knife reportedly entered Kromsian’s house at around 12 midnight Papuan time, while she and her children were asleep. The man allegedly positioned the knife above her chest, when Kromsian managed to snatch the knife away from him. The report states that she then demanded to know the man’s motives, who reportedly admitted to being paid IDR 3 million to murder Kromsian and her husband Matan Klembiap, as well as Jefry Satto, Septinus Klembiap and his wife Batseba Satto, Terianus Satto and his wife, and Yosafat Satto and his wife, due to their alleged pro-independence activities. Matan Klembiap is currently facing charges of possession of weapons under Emergency Law 12/1951.


Filep Karma’s daughter starts a petition calling for the release of Papuan political prisoners
Audryne Karma, Filep Karma’s eldest daughter has started a petition calling for the unconditional release of Papuan political prisoners from Indonesian jails. Filep Karma is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence, accused of treason for raising the Morning Star flag on 1 December 2004 in Abepura. The petition highlights the unfair trial process and lack of adequate healthcare experienced by her father since his arrest.

’Pedalling for Papua’ to highlight situation in Papua
Canadian-based campaign ‘Pedalling for Papua’ is a new campaign that combines multimedia, performance, music and cycling 12,000 kilometres aims to bring the story of West Papua and its diaspora to the wider world. Campaigner Jeremy Bally started his global tour on 29 May in Canada, and will end his six-month tour in Australia in December. Pedalling for Papua has collected interviews with the Papuan diaspora and used this to create an original animation narrated on stage through ukulele-based hip hop and spoken word. The campaign plans to highlight the plight of Papuan prisoners and call for their release.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression requests Indonesian government to confirm country visit
On 3 and 4 June 2013, human rights groups attended the 23rd UN Human Rights Council where Frank La Rue, the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression stated a request to the Indonesian government to agree the programme of his official visit which was originally scheduled for January 2013 but was postponed. Human rights activists from KontraS, International Coalition for Papua, Franciscans International and TAPOL urged the Indonesian government to give special attention to this request. A side event held on 4 June saw the launch of the Human Rights in West Papua 2013 report by the International Coalition of Papua, which highlights the human rights situation in Papua, both in terms of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights.


See here a listing of the 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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