Papuan activists reimburse Veronica Koman's scholarship funds to the Indo govt

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The Ebamukai Solidarity Movement/Team has collected donations to reimburse the scholarship funds which the Indonesian Education Fund Management Institution (LPDP) provided for Veronica Koman’s law study in Australia. The movement has managed to collect donations for an amount of IDR 773,876,918 (about € 44.144) after the LPDP urged Koman to repay the funds. The Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Markus Haluk, explained in an interview with the media outlet Jubi that the funds were raised within days and the donations came from Papuan government representatives, politicians, activists, entrepreneurs and Veronika Koman’s relatives. On 16 September 2020, the former political prisoners Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni, together with the human rights lawyer, Michael Himan, went to the office of the LPDP in Jakarta (see intro image, source: Suara Papua) to return the funds together with an Indonesian flag. They also symbolically returned the Papua Special Autonomy Fund in the form of one million rupiahs (about € 57).

According to media information, none of the staff at the LPDP office wanted to meet with the activists. Thereupon, they went to the Ministry of Finance, where police and security guards prevented the activists from entering. According to the guards, most staff had already left the office. After being rejected by two Indonesian government institutions, Ambrosius Mulait, Dano Tabuni and Michael Himan met with a staff of the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs and handed over the transfer receipt, the money and the flag. "We became emotional by the way the security treated us. We Papuans came neatly and politely, but when they saw us coming, they suddenly locked the gate. The way they see us is still racist,” said Mulait in an interview with online news outlet Suara Papua.

Police disperse solidarity activists JPR JubiThe solidarity movement has tried to raise funds on previous occasions but were blocked by the police. In August 2020, police officers in various Papuan cities prevented solidarity activists from collecting donations for Koman. And between 14 and 18 August 2020, members of the solidarity movement in the cities Jayapura and Nabire were repeatedly prevented from carrying out fundraising activities. Police officers forcefully dispersed them (see image on the right, source Jubi), although the activists had allegedly registered the donation campaign with the local police authorities.

Background
In September 2019, the police summoned Veronica Koman for the alleged violation of article 160 of the Indonesian Penal Code (KUHP) on incitement. The Surabaya police claims that she disseminated false information about the racist attack against Papuan students in the city of Surabaya. Later, the police attempted to initiate an international prosecution through Interpol because Veronica Koman refused to return to Indonesia.

In early August 2020, the LPDP demanded the Indonesian human rights lawyer, Veronica Koman, to reimburse the funds that she received as part of a scholarship program for her law studies in Australia. The Indonesian human rights community understood the claim as an attempt by the Indonesian government to discourage Veronica Koman from advocacy activities on the human rights situation in West Papua.

In the past years, unknown perpetrators repeatedly launched smear campaigns on the internet against Koman. She finally decided to go into exile in Australia in 2019 after repeatedly receiving death threats and other forms of intimidation.