Police press charges against Papuan student for social media post

The Jayapura police have charged Papuan student Ferry Pakage for posting a video on social media. Police officers arrested Ferry Pakage and a friend named Gerius Wenda in the town of Sentani, Papua Province, on 23 February 2021. Ferry was charged with Article 28(2) on hate speech (SARA) of the Electronic Information and Transaction Act for posting a video showing a group of Papuan university students demanding to burn an Indonesian flag. The criminal investigators submitted the case to the public prosecutor’s office in Jayapura on 23 April 2021.

According to the police, the video was recorded on 27 October 2020 in Waena, Jayapura. Later, Ferry Pakage had allegedly uploaded the video with the title “protest against the prolongation of the special autonomy status” through a live stream on a social media account with the name Cobalt. The police allege him of provoking Cenderawasih University students to participate in a protest against the prolongation of the special autonomy status for the provinces Papua and Papua Barat.

Indonesian authorities commonly use charges on hate speech to silence and criminalise peaceful political activists in West Papua and other parts of Indonesia. Indonesian NGOs have repeatedly called upon the police not to use legal provisions on hate speech to restrict fundamental freedoms and silence state critics. The ICP documented at least two other cases throughout 2020, in which the police prosecuted Papuans for posting government-critical content in social media