KNPB Spokesperson Victor Yeimo arrested and charged with treason

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On 9 May 2021, members of the Nemangkawi task force arrested Victor Yeimo (see photo, source: Jubi) in Jayapura. He is the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson, a civil resistance movement organisation promoting the right to self-determination. Yeimo also plays a significant role in forming a petition against the prolongation of Papua’s special autonomy status. According to various media sources, the police had already searched Victor Yeimo since the Uprising, a series of protests against the racial discrimination of ethnic Papuans and for self-determination in 23 towns across West Papua and 17 cities in Indonesia between 19 August and 30 September 2019. The police believe that he played a major role in organising and leading the protests.

Viktor Yeimo is currently detained at the Mobile Brigade headquarters in Kotaraja, Jayapura. The police are currently investigating allegations of Yeimo's involvement in civil unrests related to the Uprising. According to the head of Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua), Mathius Fakhiri, the police is planning to charge the Papuan activist with treason as regulated under article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) and or Article 110 of the KUHP on criminal conspiracy and or Article 160 KUHP on incitement and or Article 187 KUHP on arson and or Article 365 KUHP on theft using violence and or Article 170 (1) on collective violence and or Article 2 of Emergency Law No 12/1961 on illegal possession of slashing and stabbing arms as well as multiple legal provisions regulated under Law No 24/2009 on Flag, Language, National Emblem, and the National Anthem.

Background

The Uprising was triggered by the racist persecution against West Papuan students in Java from 15 to 18 August 2019 and later. The Uprising then swept across 23 towns in West Papua and 17 cities in Indonesia during the period of 19 August and to 30 September. The three key demands of The Uprising were to condemn racism, prosecute perpetrators of racist incidents in Java, which triggered The Uprising, and demand the West Papuan people’s right to self-determination through an independence referendum.

After the civil unrest, the Indonesian police launched a widespread series of prosecutions against political activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Statistical data suggests that Indonesian police officers reportedly conducted at least 525 arrests connected with the protests between 18 August and 25 September 2019. Subsequently, the police and public prosecutors initiated legal processes against at least 130 suspects. Twenty-two of them have been charged with treason or criminal conspiracy under articles 106 and 110 KUHP for participating in demonstrations against racism or peacefully advocating for the right to self-determination.