Statement by Papua's religious leaders on the trial against 7 Papuan defendants at the Balikpapan District Court

Shalom, Assalamuallaikum Wr. Wb., Om Swastiastu, Namo Buddhaya, Salam Kebajikan

Mr. President of the Republic of Indonesia that we respect and love. As the leaders of interfaith religious leaders in Papua, we express our appreciation to the President of the Republic of Indonesia for his high commitment for us in Papua Province. We see that previous presidents did not have a heart and do real work for Papua like you as President of the Republic of Indonesia Ir. H. Joko Widodo; this is not only proven through ongoing visits but also the progression of infrastructure development that continues to grow in Papuato reach remote areas of Papua on land. Unfortunately, infrastructure development only opens isolation between regions but the hearts and lives of indigenous Papuans have not been touched.

On this occasion, we are also grateful for the wisdom of the President of the Republic of Indonesia. The Special Autonomy (OTSUS) has been running over the years and will soon be over. OTSUS, which will soon end, still leaves various problems including legal issues. This problem certainly has left a wound and disappointment in the minds of Papuans. At present, various human rights violations that have occurred in Papua have never been resolved, for example; the Wasior, Wamena, Paniai, Nduga and Surabaya cases have not received legal clarity and justice.

In court trials, various legal decisions do not favor justice and truth. The legal facts that were proven in court were not respected and the judge's decision favored the policies of the government and those who had capital power. Cases of hate speech and racist acts against Papuan students occurred outside Papua, but in fact the perpetrators of racists statements were punished very low while those who refuse racist treatment are punished severely. People fear that this will lead to greater turmoil in the community. Therefore, as interfaith leaders we declare:

1. We uphold human values and firmly reject various forms of injustice and racism. In our opinion, humans in their existence before God and the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia have an equal position in their rights, obligations and dignity. As God’s creation, all human beings have the same value and are equal, noble and without difference.

2. The case of racism in Surabaya which was carried out against Papuan students in Surabaya, Malang, Yogyakarta and Semarang on 15-17 August 2019 by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Pemuda Pancasila (PP), members of the TNI and the Communication Forum of Retired military members (FKKPI) has triggered anti-racism protests by Papuans and various groups in solidarity throughout the land of Papua and throughout Indonesia from the 19th of August to early September of 2019. The problem of racism that occurred against Papuan students has hurt national and state life, so that the State must be serious in resolving this racism problem.

3. According to our observations as religious leaders who must stand objectively, independently and in the capacity to voice out justice and truth; that the 7 (seven) defendants at the trial in the Balikpapan - East Kalimantan District Court purely held a demonstration against racist treatment. But the indictments and demands at the trial were very different from the data and facts in the field. They are victims of racism but are accused of treason.

4. We observe that the legal proceedings against the 7 (seven) defendants in the trial at the Balikpapan District Court - East Kalimantan are not procedural, starting from arbitrary arrests, torture that has occurred since the arrest, the examination process that does not prioritize the principle of presumption of innocence and the transfer of the defendants which was carried out outside of Papua, not in accordance with the place of the incident, and without notifying the families and legal counsel. This transfer created the distance to the trial, resulting in the lack of access for the defendants’ families and all Papuans to view the trial openly. From a legal perspective, the trial must be conducted publicly.

5. This legal process is also increasingly difficult with the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, so that the trial is conducted online since the beginning of April 2020. This online trial complicates the evidential process, which cannot be carried out optimally and objectively, starting from the disruptive internet connection, the improper time, the exclusion of the public who cannot access the trials openly. This of course violates the general principles of justice which states that trials should be fast, simple, low cost and open to the public.

6. We see that the demands of the Public Prosecutor against the defendants are very unreasonable because they are far from the facts of the trial. Witnesses submitted by the Public Prosecutor include 6 (six) members of the Papua regional police and 1 (one) from the Kesbangpol Papua Province. Witnesses from the police are not witnesses who explain the facts as charged with treason, but rather witnesses who monitored and secured anti-racism demonstrations on August 19th of 2019 and August 29th of 2019. While witnesses from Kesbangpol did not know the defendants, the alleged case, which includes not knowing their organization and whether their orgnaizations were registered at the Kesbangpol or not, as the registration at the Kesbangpol was not an obligation but voluntary. Besides that, the three experts presented by the Public Prosecutor namely linguists, psychologists and administrative law experts did not have a correlation to the alleged treason committed by the accused. Besides that, the Public Prosecutor also did not present an expert on criminal law to support his indictment. During the trial, the Public Prosecutor only played an antiracism demonstration video which did not contain any evidence supporting the claim that the defendant committed treason.

7. The defendants through their legal counsel has presented 5 (five) fact witnesses and 5 (five) experts consisting of an expert on administrative and criminal law, a legal philosopher, a political expert, an expert on conflict resolution and an expert on racism. From our observations based on the documentaries, evidence, and witness’ testimonies, the defendants Ferry Kombo, Alex Gobay, Hengky Hilapok, Irwanus Uropmabin and Agus Kossay did not commit treason but participated in anti-racism demonstrations in Jayapura on August 19th of 2019 and August 29th of 2019 in reaction to the acts of racism against Papuan students in Surabaya that took place on August 16, 2019. Whereas Buchtar Tabuni and Steven Itlay were not involved in any antiracism demonstrations or meetings related to the Free Papua movement. The expert also explained that the demonstration against racism is guaranteed by the freedom of expression regulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Civil Convention, the 1945 Constitution, the Human Rights Law and the Freedom of Expressing Public Opinion Law.

8. Seeing the reality of the trial process above and the demand for high sentences, religion as a  believe system to uphold the truth and the values of justice in this country, requires that the state is present and plays a serious role in resolving racism and upholding the law fairly and with dignity.

9. If religious voices are not delivered, we are very worried that this nation will experience turmoil in the future. This is very dangerous, because it triggers the disintegration of the nation and the loss of public trust in the country.

With regards to the realities and real conditions, we, THE RELIGIOUS PAPUAN LEADERS, request the President of the Republic of Indonesia to;

1. Seriously solve the problem of racism in Papua. We convey this in order to help the government to achieve long-term political stability and security specifically in Papua and in Indonesia in general. We are religious leaders who are always side by side with the people hoping for long-term security, harmony and peace. Racism if neglected will be very dangerous.

2. Look into the legal proceedings against the 7 (seven) defendants that are still undergoing trial at the Balikpapan - East Kalimantan District Court to be carried out more equitably. The case began with racism in Surabaya and not treason. The state must be able to distinguish between treason and reaction to racism.

3. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic situation and the future political situation, we ask the President of the Republic of Indonesia that the defendant be released unconditionally. We request that the verdict will be read by the Honorable Panel of Judges, and reflect a non-racist legal process that the judge must demonstrate to the general public, that there is still justice for the people of Papua in the legal process in this country as enshrined in Indonesian Law and Government Regulation No. 40 and 56 concerning the supervision and elimination of discrimination, race and ethnicity in 2011-2012.

4. Our hope as Papuan religious leaders to establish a peaceful land, the President of the Republic of Indonesia immediately resolves 4 (four) main root problems of the Papua conflict that were formulated and recommended by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), among others; firstly, the history and political status of the integration of Papua into the Republic of Indonesia; secondly, the violence and human rights violations since 1965 that have almost zero justice; thirdly, discrimination and marginalization of Papuans on their own land; fourthly, development failures in education, health, and the people's economy.

5. Evaluating the journey of 20 (twenty) years of OTSUS based on the analysis of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in point 4 above with;
a. Noting the origin of OTSUS;
b. Involving religious leaders in Papua;
c. Involving civil society;
d. We religious leaders reject the draft OTSUS, which was prepared unilaterally by the BAPPENAS of the Republic of Indonesia;

This statement was made as a form of struggle to voice truth, humanity and justice throughout Indonesia and specifically in Papua to safeguard Papua's land of peace.