Update on trial against 23 defendants in Fakfak arrested during 1st December Commemorations and accused of treason and criminal conspiracy

Multiple trials against 23 indigenous Papuans are ongoing at the Fakfak District Court since 18 June 2020. The defendants have been accused of committing crimes against state security. They are tried under various indictments, among them Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on treason, Article 110 KUHP on criminal conspiracy, Article 160 KUHP on incitement and Emergency Law No. 12/1951 on the possession or use of stabbing, striking and slashing weapons (see table below). The 23 defendants are represented in court by the Manokwari Institute for Research Study and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari), the Kaki Abu Legal Aid Institute in Sorong (LBH Kakia ABU), ELSHAM Papua as well as two additional local law offices.

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TAPOL regrets Court sentencing of ‘Balikpapan Seven’ political prisoners

(London, 17 June 2020) TAPOL regrets the sentencing of seven West Papuan political prisoners today in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan province. The Seven were arrested in early September 2019 and accused of being the masterminds behind the ‘West Papua Uprising’, mass anti-racism protests in August and September last year. Prosecutors demanded that harsh prison sentences should be handed to the Seven, which has caused a rise in tensions in recent weeks in West Papua. However, judges took a different view and displayed more leniency:

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Update on trial against ‘Balikpapan 7’ – Judges sentence Papuan activists to ten and eleven months imprisonment

The trial against the seven political detainees Fery Gombo, Alexander Gobay, Hengki Hilapok, Buchtar Tabuni, Irwanus Uropmabin, Stevanus Itlay and Agus Kossay (see intro image, source: Jubi) has reached an end. On 17 June 2020, judges at the Balikpapan District Court sentenced Buchtar Tabuni, Agus Kossay and Stevanus Itlay to 11 months imprisonment. Ferry Gombo, Alexander Gobay, Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmabin were sentenced to 10 months imprisonment. Papuan human rights lawyer, Gustaf Kawer, thanked all stakeholders for the support throughout the trial. The seven activists have one week to appeal against the verdict – Kawer stated that his clients are still considering this option.

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Series of attacks against human rights defenders advocating for human rights in West Papua

The number of attacks and harassment against human rights defenders advocating for human rights in West Papua have significantly increased throughout the past weeks. A physical attack against human rights defender Yuliana Yabansabra (see intro image) occurred on 8 June 2020 in the Papuan regional capital of Jayapura. She is part of a team of lawyers providing legal support to the seven political detainees, who are currently being tried under treason charges at the District Court in Balikpapan, Kalimantan Timur province. Three days before the attack, Yulaina Yabansabra spoke out about the human rights situation in West Papua during a public Zoom conference organised by Amnesty International Indonesia. Activists from the Teknokra Student Press Activities Unit (UKPM) at the University of Lampung (Unila) in South Sumatra were reportedly intimidated before holding an online discussion on "Racial discrimination against Papuans" on 11 June 2020.

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Corona prevention policies increase violence – Security force members leave three indigenous Papuans injured in Paniai

On 25 May 2020, police officers killed Justinus Dimara in Jayapura as they dispersed a group of Papuans who had violated contact restrictions and distance requirements, which the local government imposed for the prevention of COVID-19. Now, the enforcement of Corona prevention policies has resulted in a further case of security force violence against indigenous Papuans in the regency of Paniai. The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua) reported that joint security force members ill-treated 29-year old Sarah Yeimo and subsequently tortured Yosia Magai (24 years) and Yupen Magai (28 years) at a roadblock near the Uwibutu Hospital on 10 June 2020. All three victims sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised. The control post with a roadblock (see image below on the right) had been set up by the local government to prevent people that live outside of Paniai to enter the regency.

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Theo Hesegem's views on the #BlackLivesMatter #PapuanLivesMatter Campaign

#BlackLivesMatter #PapuanLivesMatter Campaign: About the Indonesian government's attitude towards indigenous Papuans and the difficulties to enforce the law in West Papua, written by Theo Hesegem and translated by the ICP

Since the integration of West Papua into Indonesia, the country has considered indigenous Papuans, particularly those demanding justice, law enforcement and respect for human rights, as second-class citizens. The Indonesian government seems to support the idea that indigenous Papuans are Indonesian citizens who do not have the right to live.

As Indonesian citizens, indigenous Papuans must have the same rights as other Indonesians. However, there are still government representatives and Indonesian citizens who see Papuans as people with dark skin and curly hair who are not worthy of being part of the Indonesian nation.  Indigenous Papuans continue to be labelled as monkeys and the Papuan victims of human rights violations are considered trash. Until today, the victims and their families in West Papua keep waiting for justice in the law enforcement system.

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Police officers arrest four students during peaceful assembly in support of Balikpapan 7

On 15 June 2020, police officers arbitrarily arrested four students at the Jayapura University for Science and Technology (USTJ) during a peaceful open stage event in support of the seven political detainees in Balikpapan. One of the detainees, Alexander Gobay, is the incumbent USTJ student president – he was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment on 17 June 2020. The USTJ students had already set up a racism-protest post and the open stage on 13 June 2020 to make peaceful orations and express their aspirations for the release of the Balikpapan 7.

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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.

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Papuan Parliament, MRP and religious leaders criticise injustice and demand release of ‘Balikpapan 7’

The Papuan Provincial Parliament (DPRP) and the Papuan Peoples Council (MRP) have raised concerns regarding the demanded sentences against seven political activists during a trial on 5 June 2020. They have been charged with treason and other vague legal provisions for their involvement in Anti-racism Protests in West Papua throughout August and September 2019. Both government institutions, as well as Papuan Catholic priests and other religious leaders of the interfaith network in West Papua, published statements. They wrote letters to President Jokowi asking him to stand up for the seven defendants. Politicians and religious leaders fear riots and outbreaks of violence in West Papua if the seven activists are sentenced to long prison terms.

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Yones Douw talks about the #BlackLivesMatter Campaign in West Papua

Papuan human rights defender, Yones Douw (see intro image), has closely followed the riots in the United States of America in response to the tragic killing of George Floyd by police officers.

“As a human rights activist, I see no difference between black Americans and black indigenous Papuans given the colour. The violations by security force officers which black Americans and indigenous Papuans have to face are the same. The discrimination which indigenous Papuans experienced is even crueller: They are insulted as monkeys, pigs, dogs or gorillas, being persecuted, intimidated, looted, killed, shot dead, hacked as well as discriminated against the law and in law enforcement.

However, the problem in the United States is the ill-treatment of black Americans during police operations. In West Papua, the root cause of the problem is closely linked to opposing views on the historical integration of West Papua into Indonesia. As Papuans, we have to underline that the conflict in West Papua is not a matter of development disparities or economic issues.”

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More Articles...

  1. Update: Trial on internet blockage in West Papua – Administrative Court rules President and Minister acted unlawfully
  2. Eighth update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua
  3. Attorney General rejects the Paniai Case files again for further processing
  4. Papua Police Chief presses charges against KNPB member in Mimika – suspect injured during arrest
  5. Police officers disperse residents with water cannon in Jayapura - one person dead
  6. CC TV records police officers torturing suspect in Mimika Regency
  7. Allegations of enforced disappearance in Intan Jaya - Two indigenous Papuans reported missing
  8. Papuan student arrested for Facebook post – Police press charges
  9. Freeport operating with reduced workforce due to increase of COVID-19 cases
  10. Korindo palm oil plantation calls police to settle land dispute – One indigenous Papuan dies as a result of torture
  11. Update, The Jakarta Six: Cancellation of release
  12. Police investigator in Sorong Selatan prevents lawyers from meeting with detainees
  13. Update: Number of Covid-19 cases in Papua rise to 301
  14. Residents reject construction of a military base in Tambrauw
  15. Human Rights Update West Papua - 1st Quarter 2020
  16. Govt fails to respect freedom of expression in West Papua – Police arrest students and summon church leader
  17. Human Rights Watch Indonesia: New Arrests for Peaceful Political Expression
  18. New IPAC Report available: COVID-19 and Conflict in West Papua
  19. Trade Minister revokes timber licensing for wood export – Papuan Forest under threat
  20. TAPOL denounces sentences handed to Jakarta Six
  21. Seventh update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua
  22. Police operation in Maybrat Regency accompanied by arrests and torture
  23. Three policemen died due to clashes with military members
  24. Amnesty Indonesia: Urge the Government to Immediately Protect the Rights of Health Workers!
  25. Update on Corona Pandemic in West Papua – Number of infections rise to 137
  26. Two Papuans shot dead in Mimika - Military members allegedly mistook victims for resistance fighters
  27. Urgent appeals filed with UN by 63 political prisoners in Indonesia amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
  28. Police officers arrest Papuan human rights activist and relatives in Mimika Regency – five allegedly beaten during custody
  29. Trial update on killing of Govt contractors in Nduga Regency – Mispo Gwijangge released
  30. One employee killed and six injured during TPN PB attack on Freeport office

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