KNPB remain most targeted Papuan civil society group

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Papuans Behind Bars reports that at the end of November 2014, there were at least 65 political prisoners in Papuan jails.

The West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) remains the most heavily targeted civil society group in Papua. So far this year, there have been 101 arrests of KNPB activists or those suspected of being affiliated to the KNPB. The pattern of mass arrests of KNPB members continued this month with 28 KNPB members arrested for participating in peaceful commemorative activities celebrating the 6th anniversary of the formation of the KNPB in 2008.

This July, 36 KNPB arrests were made in relation to a peaceful planned boycott of the Indonesian Presidential elections. There appears to be no end in sight for punitive and indiscriminate actions against the KNPB, including raids, mass arrests, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture. Police attempts to delegitimise the KNPB as an ‘illegal’ organisation under the auspices of Law 17/2013 on Social Organisations (UU 17/2013 tentang Organisasi Kemasyarakatan) restricts peaceful expression and represents a shrinking of democratic space.

The 12 detainees in the Nimbokrang Elections Boycott case were released on bail but may yet be tried and are currently under city arrest. The four detainees in the Freedom Flotilla arrests case in Sorong in August 2013 and the two detainees in the Sarmi treason case in December 2013 likewise remain in legal limbo. In these cases, bail conditions included the possibility of re-arrest if found repeating the same ‘offence,’ such as demonstrating or boycotting an election. These stringent bail conditions together with police surveillance and restrictions on physical movement are aimed at deterring indigenous Papuan activists from exercising their right to peaceful protest. This clearly violates the rights to freedom of assembly and expression. Similarly, the inclusion of activists and leaders in police ‘wanted’ lists (Daftar Pencarian Orang, DPO) is another strategy used by police to criminalise and intimidate indigenous civil society groups.

Linus Hiel Hiluka and Kimanus Wenda, two political prisoners detained in Nabire who are serving sentences of 19 years and 10 months each, were subjected to inhumane treatment by police. The trial for Areki Wanimbo, who has been detained since 6 August, is expected to begin in December. Wanimbo was arrested alongside two French journalists who visited him as part of their investigations into the situation in Lanny Jaya. He faces charges of conspiracy to commit treason which carries a maximum six-year sentence.

You can read the full update here.