West Papua Council of Churches calls for solidarity with WP

As a commemoration of 166 Years of the Gospel entering the Land of Papua, the West Papuan Council of Churches has release a new letter on 5 February 2021. Through this latest letter, the Council of Churches asks all congregations to take time for praying and fasting once a week to ask God for wisdom and strength. The letter also calls for people in Indonesia, the Pacific and elsewhere to stand in solidarity with them. The Council also thanks those who have been standing in solidarity with Papua, especially the Prime Ministers of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and the Pacific Islands Forum leaders, as well as the World Council of Churches and the Church in Asia & the Pacific, for visiting and seeing the conditions of the Nduga Refugees in Wamena. The content of the letter reads as follows:

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Update on trial against KNPB leader – Adam Sorry sentenced to six years imprisonment

The chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) branch office in the Maybrat Regency, Adam Sorry (see image, source: Suara Papua), was sentenced to six years in prison. A panel of judges at the Sorong District Court found him guilty for the alleged involvement of a homicide case in the Sori Village, Maybrat Regency. Before the verdict, the public prosecutor had sought a sentence of eleven years imprisonment for Sorry. Adam Sorry's lawyer plans to appeal against the ruling. He represents the view that law enforcement institutions attempt to criminalise Adam Sorry because of his political views and membership to the KNPB.

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Land rights conflicts in Boven Digoel – Military members intimidate indigenous land rights holders

Human rights defenders documented another case of intimidation in the Boven Digoel Regency. On 4 February 2021, around 11.30 am, indigenous woman Kornelia Ninggan and several of her relatives collected firewood at the side of Baru Statistik Road, near Tanahmerah, the largest town in Boven Digoel. A car stopped, two military members in plainclothes (see image, source: screenshot taken from video recording) approached Kornelia and reprimanded her for chopping timber in this area. Kornelia and her relatives belong to the clan owning the land rights in the site, so she began an argument with the military members. Relatives recorded parts of the discussion with their cell phone cameras.

Kornelia and her relatives understood this as an act of intimidation. They also mention in the video that the military members allegedly threatened them. They urged the military members to leave and said they would share the video with the superiors if the military members would intimidate them again.

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Update on pre-trial against Merauke Police Chief - Judge rejects release of 13 political activists

On 25 January 2021, the judge, Ganang Hariyudo Prakoso, ruled that the Merauke Police Chief and his men had acted following criminal procedures as stipulated in the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). The verdict implies that the judicial process against the 14 members of the West Papua National Coalition (KNPB) activists (see image, source: independent HRD) will continue. They have been charged for allegedly engaging in treasonous activities. Thirteen of them had initiated the pre-trial. According to the activists and their lawyers, members of the Merauke District Police had committed multiple procedural violations during arrest and detention on 13 December 2020, including arbitrary arrest and torture.

Update on trials in relation to Maybrat Police Raid – All three defendants acquitted

A panel of judges at the Sorong District Court acquitted the three defendants Marten Muuk, Simon Sasior, dan Yakobus Asem on 3 February 2021. The trial against the three indigenous villagers was already launched on 15 September 2020. Marten Muuk dan Simon Sasior were charged with Article 110 (2) of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on criminal conspiracy against the state. Yakobus Asem was tried separately. The public prosecutor charged him with Article 106 KUHP on treason. The judges ruled that the evidence presented at court could neither be linked to the defendants nor to the murder of police officer Mesak Viktor Pulung. The verdict elaborates that the defendants’ names, dignity and status shall be restituted from all accusations.

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Update on IDP situation in Mimika – First IDPs return to their villages

In the past few days, 571 internally displaced persons from the villages Opitawak and Banti 1 have returned to the Tembagapura District. The return from Timika was facilitated by the Mimika local government and the mining company PT Freeport Indonesia in cooperation with the military. Papuan lawmaker, Laurenzus Kadepa, urged all parties not to restrict or disturb the villagers in and around their settlements after he received information that the IDPs were gathered in a shelter in Tembagapura and prevented to return to their homes. The vice-regent of Mimika Regency, Johannes Rettob, explained in an interview with the media outlet Jubi that all sick people, children, elderly people and pregnant women will for the time being not be allowed to return because they face higher health risks. All IDPs will reportedly receive a medical check-up before return.

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Update on law enforcement process against KNPB leader Adam Sorry – Public prosecutor seeks a sentence of 11 years

On 26 January 2021, the public prosecutor demanded a sentence of eleven years imprisonment for Adam Sorry (see image, source: Suara Papua), the chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) branch office in Maybrat Regency. Sorry is currently standing trial at the Sorong District Court. He was charged with Article 170 (2) & (3) of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on collective violence resulting in injuries & death as well as Article 338 KUHP on homicide. The latter article carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. His lawyers claim that the trial is an attempt to criminalize Adam Sorry for his political views and the affiliation with the KNPB, a political movement organisation, promoting the right to self-determination through peaceful activities. Trial will continue on 9 February with the defence plea.

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Update on arbitrary detention and torture of 14 activists in Merauke – Pre-trial against Merauke Police Chief

Thirteen activists of the West Papua National Committee have filed a pre-trial challenging the legality of their arrest by members of the Merauke District Police on 13 December 2020. Their lawyers argue that the detention was illegal because it violated multiple provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). They demand the unconditional release of all 14 detainees. Police officers allegedly tortured the activists and failed to arrange warrants before the police operation and promptly inform the relatives about the arrest. The pre-trial against the Merauke District police chief, Untung Sangaji, was launched on 18 January 2021.

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More IDPs in Intan Jaya - Residents fled violence in Ndugusiga

The number of IDPs from Intan Jaya displaced due to the conflict between the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB) and Indonesian security forces was estimated at 13,000 people in November 2020. This number continues to increase as more security forces are deployed to the area. Benyamin Weya, Member of Parliament in Intan Jaya (DPRD Intan Jaya) said that the Ndugusiga village people had fled and vacated the village after a fight between the TPN PB and military forces took place on 22 January 2021. He explained that the village evacuation was carried out as a prevention at the warning given by joint security force representatives in Intan Jaya. The military leadership was giving constant warnings and threatened to shoot all people in Ndugusiga if the village is not cleared. The evacuation started on 23 January 2021.

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Eighteen IDPs died in Jayawijaya due to lack of medical attention

The last update on IDPs' situation in Nduga affirmed that according to solidarity groups, 400 IDPs have died between January 2019 and November 2020 in Jayawijaya alone due to diseases and other strains they face there. Jubi has reported that as many as 18 refugees from Nduga Regency, Papua in Jayawijaya Regency died in various refugee locations during the past month. "This has happened since 24 December, 2020 until now. Already 18 people died. Those are Nduga refugees in Jayawijaya, refugees in other areas we don't know. Today two refugees are in critical condition", said Raga Kogeya via a phone call to Jubi on Wednesday 20 January 2021. He said that sometimes two to three refugees die in a day. The age range of those who died was 18 to 50 years.

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