Second update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua

Three months after Papua-wide anti-racism protests and riots, a series of arrests and trials occurred in various Indonesian cities. This article provides an overview on trials related to the protests and the subsequent wave of criminalisation against human rights defenders and political activists. ICP summarised earlier stages of the legal proceedings and detentions in a previous article. The following article covers recent developments regarding the anti-racism riots between late November and mid-December 2019.

The trials against defendants who allegedly participated in the anti-racism riots illustrate the wide-spread problem of torture during police custody. A defendant in the Jayapura trials stated that police officers tortured him and five other arrestees and forced them to sign confessions. Two female suspects, both arrested in relation to the anti-racism riots in Wamena, said they were intimidated, threatened and sexually harassed during custody in Wamena and Jayapura.

Court trial against alleged perpetrator of hate speech in Surabaya continues
The court trials against three defendants Syamsul Arifin, Tri Susanti (aka. Mak Susi) and Andria Ardiansyah are proceeding at the Surabaya district court.
•    Symasul Rifin was charged with article 4b (2) of Law 40/2008 regarding elimination of racial and ethnic discrimination. The article regulates the criminal offense of showing hatred towards people because of racial and ethnic differences in the form of speeches, expressions, or certain wording in public places or other places where it can be heard by others;
•    Tri Susanti was charged with article 28 (2) Jo. article 45A (2) of Law No. 19 /2016 about the amendment of Law No. 11/2008 on Electronic Information and Transaction and/or article 4 of Law 40/2008 regarding elimination of racial and ethnic discrimination and/or article 160 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on incitement.
Susanti’s lawyers filed an objection, claiming that the criminal charges of the indictment did not match Susanti’s participation in the assault against the Papuan students. The lawyers explained that Susanti was only interviewed by a media outlet which broadcasted the interview but did not actively distributed any information, e.g. through social media.
•    Andria Ardiansyah was also charged article 28 (2) Jo. article 45A (2) of Law No. 19 /2016 about the amendment of Law No. 11/2008 on Electronic Information and Transaction. He was accused of spreading a video with contents of hate speech against the Papuan students on his YouTube Channel.

Update on trials in relation to Jayapura riots
The trial against 15 defendants, namely Yoda Tabuni, Ferius Entamon, Agustinus Izak Mohi, Elo Huby, Ari Asso, Ruvinus Tambonop, Ronal Wandik, Yusuf Marthen Muai, Johny Weya, Persiapan Kogoya, Mikha Asso, Dorti Kawena, Pandra Wenda, Yali Loho and Wilem Walilo, continued at the Jayapura District Court on 2 December 2019. The defendants are accused of participating in acts of vandalism during anti-racism riots that occurred in various locations in Jayapura on 29 August 2019 .

Throughout early December, various witnesses were examined at court. The panel of judges launched the examination of witnesses starting with those presented by the public prosecution. The defendant’s lawyers filed a complaint against the judges, arguing that the examination of witnesses in a trial shall always start with the defendants’ testimonies, as stipulated in article 160, 1(b) of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP).

The examination of witnesses also revealed logical inconsistencies. The public prosecution named two members of the Papuan Regional Police (Polda Papua) named Hamka and Heppy Salampesy as witnesses. According to the public prosecution, the officers witnessed multiple defendants who had allegedly committed acts of vandalism in multiple locations. The defendants’ lawyers raised doubts regarding the truth of the testimonies as the riots occurred simultaneously in multiple locations of Jayapura. The officers did neither record the incidents with their mobile phones nor were they able to identify the defendants during the acts of vandalism. One of the officers even revoked the content of his police report with his personal signature. The defendant’s lawyers urged the panel of judges to use article 242(1) KUHP if witnesses deliberately make false testimonies under oath.

The examination of defendant Pandra Wenda revealed that police officers had used torture to force confessions during police interrogation from various suspects. Pandra Wenda revoked the content of a police report according to which he had participated in acts of vandalism in Abepura. According to Mr Wenda, he was in the Entrop with a group of protesters – approximately 3 kilometers away - as the riots in Abepura occurred. Pandra Wenda signed the confession after police officers had repeatedly beaten him and other five suspects during custody.

Update on situation of seven Papuan political detainees in Kalimantan
The seven Papuan political activists, namely Fery Kombo, Alexander Gobay, Hengki Hilapok, Buchtar Tabuni, Irwanus Uropmabin, Stevanus Itlay and Agus Kossay are still detained at the East Kalimantan Regional Police detention facility (Rutan Polda Kaltim), where they were transferred to on 4 October 2019. The transfer was not authorised by the Supreme Court. The police argued that detention and trial of the activists would jeopardise the security situation in West Papua. They have been charged with multiple criminal charges, among them the articles 106 and 110 KUHP on treason. The police finalised the criminal investigation against the seven suspects and has submitted the case files and evidence to the public prosecution on 16 December 2019.

Polda Papua spokesperson, Ahmad Mustofa Kamal, stated during a press conference on 16 December 2019 that the Supreme Court finally approved the transfer and appointed the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan Province to process the case. The seven political activists demand that the trial shall be held in West Papua. The lawyers announced that the activists planned to go on hunger strike if the trial were to be in Kalimantan. According to the lawyers, the political activists were willing to issue a public statement asking their supporters not to disturb the trial process.

Team of lawyers sue Government institutions for shutting down internet in West Papua  
In early December a team of lawyers representing the Indonesian NGOs LBH Pers, YLBHI, SafeNet and the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of the State Secretary and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology to the State Administrative Court in Jakarta. The NGOs claim that the Government institutions should not order a shut down or throttling of the internet in any region in Indonesia without legal foundation as they had done in West Papua in late August and September 2019. It is the first trial of this kind and its outcome is supposed to be a precedent for the whole country. The NGOs demanded that the director of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology publicly apologises on radio, television and print media for ordering the shutdown of the internet in West Papua after the Papua-wide anti-racism protests. The trial was launched on 2 December and is currently ongoing.

Update on law enforcement process regarding anti-racism riots in Wamena
The police investigations into the anti-racism riots in Wamena on 23 September 2019 are still ongoing. In late October 2019, the Jayawijaya district police launched investigations against 19 suspects. Lawyers providing legal support to the suspects as well as human rights NGOs expressed concerns over unprofessional conduct of police officers during the investigation because at least two of the suspects were allegedly subjected to intimidation and torture during custody. One of the suspects with the initials TTI claims that police officers at the Jayawijaya District Police Station threatened to kill her at gun point. According to TTI, she was repeatedly sexually harassed by a police officer after she was transferred to the Polda Papua detention facility. TTI’s parents said they were not informed about the transfer of their daughter from Wamena to Jayapura.

Human rights NGOs and lawyers demanded that the Polda Papua Division for Profession and Security of the Police (Propam) immediately launches an investigation into the allegations of torture and sexual harassment and process the perpetrators.

Trial against six pro-Papua activists launched in Jakarta
The pre-trial against the Jakarta Regional Police (Polda Metro Jaya) at the South Jakarta District Court in relation to the arrest of Indonesian political activist Surya Anta Ginting and the five Papuan students Issay Wenda, Arina Elopere, Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni failed. Judge, Agus Widodo, rejected the defendants’ pre-trial application on 10 December 2019. The judge argued that the pre-trial petition was “formally and materially flawed”. The lawyers announced that they will file a complaint against the judge to the Supreme Court Supervisory Agency because the judge focused only on formal requirements of the pre-trial petition instead of considering the legal facts regarding procedural violations by the police.

The trial against the six Pro-Papua activists was launched at the Central Jakarta District Court on 19 December 2019 (see intro image, source Jubi). They have been charged with treason and conspiracy as stipulated under articles 106 and 110 (1) KUHP. All defendants filed an objection against the prosecutor's indictment. The trial will proceed on 2 January 2020.

Trial against nine anti-racism protesters in Waghete launched in Nabire
The trials against nine anti-racism protesters at the Nabire District Court began on 5 December 2019. The public prosecutor charged Yuven Pekei, Alex Pakage, Andreas Douw, Stefanus Goo, Melianus Mote, dan Simon Petrus Ukago with articles 1 & 2 of Emergency Law No. 12/1955 on the possession or use of sharp weapons and fire arms and articles 212 & 213 KUHP on assault of state officials carrying out their legitimate duty. The defendants Steven Pigai, Mikael Bukega, dan Yos Iyai were charged with article 160 KUHP on incitement. The defendants’ lawyers filed an objection against the prosecutor's indictments. The trial will proceed on 8 January 2020.

Trials against nine protesters of Exodus-Student Riot in Waena launched in Jayapura
The trials in relation to the exodus-student riot in Jayapura on 23 September 2019 have begun. The nine defendants are accused of participating in the clashes between students and security force members. The Public Prosecutor accused the students of throwing stones and glass bottles at police officers, injuring several officers and causing the death of a military member named Private Zulkifli. The lawyers announced they will file an objection against the indictments.

The first trial against the students Yogi Wenda, Jimi Kogoya, Eminus Bayage and Maya Nirigi was launched at the Jayapura District Court on 11 December 2019. The Public Prosecutor charged the students with article 170 (2) KUHP on collective violence against persons or objects, article 140 (2) KUHP regarding treason and articles 214 & 218 KUHP on committing violence against police on duty.

A second trial against the five defendants Bedira Tabuni, Alpon Meku, Pailes Yigibalon, Biko Tabuni and Tenak Waker began on 12 December 2019. The public prosecutor used the same criminal charges as in the other trial against the Exodus students, namely articles 170 (2) KUHP, 140 (2) KUHP and articles 214 & 218 KUHP.