Third Update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua

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This article provides an overview on trials related to Papua-wide anti-racism protests between late August and late September 2019 as well as the subsequent wave of criminalisation against human rights defenders and political activists. The International Coalition for Papua summarised earlier stages of the legal proceedings and detentions in previous articles (first update, second update). The following article covers recent developments in relation to the anti-racism riots between mid-December 2019 and 22 January 2020.

According to the Secretary General of the Indonesian Advocates Association National Leadership Council, Sugeng Teguh Santoso, the cases related to the riots in Jayapura on 29 August 2019 illustrate that the police investigations in relation to the riots were extremely messy. Sugeng stated that the investigators applied torture to force confessions from suspects and used fabricated evidence to match the police reports (Berita Acara Pemeriksaan, BAP) in order to meet the requirements for their submission to the public prosecution. Sugeng Teguh Santoso is also part of the team of lawyers representing Papuan defendants at court and participated in several court hearings.

Court trial against alleged perpetrator of hate speech in Surabaya still ongoing

The three trials against the three defendants Syamsul Arifin, Tri Susanti (aka. Mak Susi) and Ardian Andiansah are still ongoing at the Surabaya district court. No court sessions took place between Christmas and new year. There have been repeated delays because witnesses did not appear in court and public prosecutors failed to prepare their demands regarding the penalties. The law enforcement process against Indonesian human rights defender, Veronica Koman, is still ongoing. Her name continues to be mentioned on the list of wanted persons for alleged “incitement” under article 160 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code (KUHP), as well as provisions of the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE Law) and the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Law.

  • Current status of the trial process against police officer Syamsul Arifin (Civil service police unit, Satpol PP): Demands by public prosecutor
  • Current status of the trial process against Tri Susanti (former legislative candidate of political party 'Gerindra'): Testimonies of witnesses
  • Current status of the trial process against Ardian Andiansah: Testimonies of witnesses

Update on trials in relation to Jayapura riots on 29 August 2019

Multiple trials in relation to the anti-racism riots in Jayapura on 29 August 2019 are simultaneously taking place:

The public prosecutor demanded a sentence of twelve months imprisonment for defendant Wilem Walilo. Mr Walilo was arrested while he was in possession of a machete on 30 August 2019 during a police check. He was on the way to his pig stall and needed the knife to prepare food for his animals. The police processed him for alleged violation of article 2 (1) of Emergency Law No 12/ 1951, although article 2 (2) of the same law states that sharp weapons for the use of animal husbandry or gardening are excluded from prosecution.

In a separate trial, the public prosecutor demanded an imprisonment sentence of 12 months for the defendants Yosam Wenda and Yoda Tabuni. Both defendants are accused of stealing a computer and a keyboard from the Governor’s Office on 29 August 2019. The trial will continue on 27 January with the plea by the defendant’s lawyers.

A court process had also been initiated against Dolfinus Hisage, a protester who was arrested during the demonstration on 29 August 2019. Dolfinus Hisage was charged with article 160 KUHP on incitement for making orations in front of the Cenderawasih University Campus. The court examination of a police officer as witness showed that the police simply arrested him for making a public speech. The officer confirmed that Dolfinus Hisage did not engage in any forms of violence or criminal offense during the riot.

In late 2019, two separate trials were launched in relation to the killing of Evertin Mofu, an indigenous Papuan who was killed by a group of migrants during interracial clashes in Jayapura on 30 August 2019. In late December 2019, two other defendants – both of them still minors – were sentenced to 11 months imprisonment for the involvement in the killing of Evertin Mofu. Two further defendants named Nasrul and Irwan have been charged with article 338 KUHP on homicide or article 170 (2) on mob violence with fatal consequences, with a maximum penalty of 15 years or 12 years, respectively. On 7 January 2020, two witnesses testified about the incident at the Jayapura district court. However, both witnesses were not able to clearly identify the perpetrators during the mob violence.

The trials against Yoda Tabuni Ferius Entamon, Agustinus Izak Mohi, Elo Huby, Ari Asso, Ruvinus Tambonop, Ronal Wandik, Yusuf Marthen Muai, Johny Weya, Persiapan Kogoya, Mika Asso, Dorti Kawena, Pandra Wenda and Yali Loho continued at the Jayapura District Court. The 14 defendants are accused of participation in acts of vandalism during the outbreak of violence on 29 August 2019, as regulated in article 170 KUHP on participation in collective violence against persons or objects. The judges questioned two police officers as witnesses about the allegations of torture during police detention. Both police officers denied the allegations, stating that their colleagues had prepared the BAP without applying physical force or intimidation against the suspects. Another witness named Oktovianus Hisage testified that he and three defendants were beaten by police officers during custody. Mr Hisage was arrested for allegedly stealing a computer at the Governor’s office and subsequently detained with defendants (Pandra Wenda, Mika Asso and Yoda Tabuni) who had allegedly been subjected to torture.

On 20 January 2020, the defendants’ lawyers invited two expert witnesses – expert for criminal law, Dr Yohanes Budiman Bakti, as well as spiritual leader and social anthropologist, Dr Benny Giay – to speak at court. Dr Yohanes Budiman Bakti explained that the article 170 KUHP may only be applied if a criminal act is conducted as part of a conspiracy or joint plan. In the context of the court trials, the public prosecutor would need to prove that the defendants know each other and planned the acts vandalism. He also emphasised that the BAP may not be used as evidence in court trials.

Update on trials in relation to Exodus student riot in Waena on 23 September 2019

Four trials are taking place in relation to the clashes between Papuan students and joint security forces on 23 September 2019 in Waena. All 12 defendants are currently standing trial at the Jayapura District Court. In the interlocutory judgment, the judges rejected the defendant’s objection against the indictment. As of 22 January 2020, multiple witnesses were examined at court. The next court hearings have been scheduled for 23 January 2020.

First trial against defendants Yogi Wenda, Jimi Kogoya, Eminus Bayage and Maya Nirigi (indictment: 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)

Second trial against defendants Bedira Tabuni, Alpon Meku, Pailes Yigibalon, Biko Tabuni and Tenak Waker (indictment: articles 170 (2) KUHP KUHP on collective violence against persons or objects, 140 (2) KUHP regarding treason and articles 214 & 218 KUHP on committing violence against police on duty)

Third trial against defendant Abraham Dote (indictment: article 160 KUHP on incitement and or article 187 KUHP on deliberate arson, and or article 365 KUHP on theft accompanied by violence, and or article 170 (1) KUHP on collective violence against persons or objects, and or article 2 of Emergency Law No 12/1951 on unauthorized possession and use of sharp weapons in conjunction with article 64 KUHP).

Fourth trial against defendants Abua Jikwa and Endu Kogoya. (Indictment: article 170 KUHP on collective violence against persons or objects)

Trial against KNPB activist Donny Itlay launched in Jayapura

A trial against West Papua National Committee (KNPB) activist Donny Itlay was launched in January 2020 at the Jayapura District Court. He was arrested together with KNPB leader Agus Kossay on 18 September 2019 as the activists were driving a motorcycle in Sentani town, Jayapura regency. While Agus Kossay was charged with treason and is currently awaiting trial together with six other political detainees in the province of Kalimantan Timur (see next paragraph), Donny Itlay was charged with article 480 KUHP on fencing of stolen goods. The examination of a witness on 21 January 2020 confirmed that Donny Itlay had rented the motorcycle. Itlay stated that he was not aware that the vehicle was stolen. His lawyer assessed the case as an attempt to criminalise his client for his membership in the political KNPB movement.

Update on situation of seven Papuan political detainees in Kalimantan

As of 22 January 2020, the seven Papuan political activists are still being detained in the city of Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur Province. In early January, the public prosecutor had again prolonged the detention period until February 2020. They have been charged with treason under article 106 and are still awaiting trial. The Public Prosecutor announced that he will take all necessary measures to ensure that the trial will be held at the Balikpapan District Court. The defendants still demand that the court process takes place in West Papua. The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) and some lawmakers in Papua provinces supported the claim that the seven political detainees should be transferred back to Jayapura.

In mid-January 2020, multiple media sources published information according to which the detention conditions in the closed cells with high humidity and limited air circulation for more than two months have resulted in health problems among the seven detainees. Despite medical treatment during detention, they reportedly struggled with multiple health issues, such as gastritis, headache, tooth ache, cough with phlegm. Several Papuan activists stated that they had difficulties to breathe. It is currently still not known when the trial will be launched.

Trial against six pro-Papua activists launched in Jakarta

There were no significant developments in the trial against six Pro-Papua activists between late December 2019 and 22 January 2020. The trial is taking place at the Central Jakarta District Court and was twice postponed. The judges felt disturbed because the defendants Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni attended the trial hearing wearing their traditional attire. The so-called ‘Goteka’ is used by males in the central highlands of West Papua. It covers the penis with a dried pumpkin shell. The testicles are not covered. The judges demanded both defendants to wear “polite clothes” at court. Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni had also painted the slogan ‘Monkey’ with white paint on their chest (see intro image). The lawyers and human rights activist understood the judges’ statements as racist statements, ignoring the cultural traditions in West Papua.

Trial against nine anti-racism protesters in Waghete

The three trials against nine anti-racism protesters at the Nabire District Court are still ongoing. The judges rejected the defendants’ objection against the prosecutor's indictments. The lawyers’ attempt to stop the trial against the defendants, Yuven Pekei and Andreas Douw, was also rejected by the panel of judges. The lawyers had argued that both defendants were still under the age of 18 years during the time of the incident. However, the judges argued that both teenagers had already turned 18 years old as the trial began and may therefore be processed as adults. The trials will continue with the examination of evidence and testimonies by expert witnesses.