Monthly Archives: February 2012

Monitoring of the trial of Forkorus and colleagues

This briefly covers the monitoring of four of the most recent hearings of the trial of Forkorus Yaboisembet and his four colleagues who are facing the charge of subversion – makar – in relation to their attendance at the Papuan Peace Conference 16 – 19 October and the subsequent declaration by Forkorus of the establishment of the Federal Republic of West Papua.Monday 6 February 2012

At this hearing when the defendant’s demurrer was submitted, security forces were out in force along the roads leading to the courthouse and related offices. Armed troops from the police, Brimob and the army were present alongside the courthouse.

The identities of all those wishing to enter the court were checked
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Solidarity groups held a demonstration with banners declaring support for the Federal Republic of West Papua and waving the Morning Star flag.

Friday, February 10.

Guarding by the security forces from the police and the army continued to be heavy, while all those wishing to attend had their identities checked. Many of those who turned up had to remain outside because the court was already full.

The army and Brimob in nine Brimob trucks were present causing the atmosphere to be very tense.   Army troops bearing weapons set up their own tents  on both sides of the  courthouse while a Brimob unit was stationed on the right of the courthouse. Members of PETAPA (a solidarity group)were also present.

Hearing on Friday 17 February.

Witnesses for the prosecution were expected to give testimony but none of them appeared, as a result of which the prosecutor only presented material evidence.

The hearing was due to commence at 9am but was delayed because one of the defendants, Dominkus Sorabut, was unwell and was taken to hospital by members of the legal team. His condition was said to be not very serious and he was provided with medication. In the afternoon, the defendants returned to the court and the hearing to hear witnesses for the  prosecution was resumed; however, again the witnesses did not appear while 64 items of material evidence were produced and read out at great length by the prosecutor.

Gustaf Kawer, a lawyer for the defendants, objected  to the presentation of material evidence as this was intended to be a hearing to hear witnesses, but the panel of judges nevertheless decided to proceed. The hearing grew tense when Forkorus and his colleagues protested, saying that there was no need for the hearing to continue.

The area outside the courthourse was again packed with members of the security forces.

Hearing on 21 February

Guarding by security forces was even heavier all round the courthouse The reason for the high presence of police officers was that most of the witnesses due to appear were members of the police force. Some of the police were in uniform while others were in plain clothes. Inside the court, the witnesses who testified said either that they knew nothing about the declaration that had been read out by Forkorus or said that they could not remember. They also told the court that they did not know any of the defendants.

One of the witnesses was Alfons Rumbekwan, the secretary of the Majelis Rakyat Papua, but defence lawyer Gustaf Kawar objected to this witness giving testimony because he was an indigenous Papuan and also because of his membership of the Majelis Rakyat Papua.

This hearing was also held to  hear testimony from ordinary Papuans. Five of these witnesses were expected to appear but only one of them appeared. This was Elieser Awom, a 67-year-old Papuan and former political prisoner. He gave evidence regarding the Papuan Peace conference and spoke about the  attack on participants at the conference and the killing of several of the participants. Elieser Awom had himself been arrested and said that he had been tortured by police officers.

Before the hearing concluded Forkorus protested against the prosecutor and the judges, accusing them of using various pretexts  [against the defendants].

On this occasion also, the prosecutor announced that following the hearing on 21 February, they had reported a number of the police officers present at the hearing because of unacceptable behaviour. This announcement was met with disbelief by the defence team because that session had proceeded quite smoothly.

After the members of the defence team returned home, they were told that there were reports that they were likely to be summoned by  the police in order to face charges. If this were to happen, it would been seen as part of a strategy by the prosecutor and the judges to exert pressure on the defence lawyers ahead of the final verdict by the judges.

Meanwhile, at a press conference held by the defendants, they said that they rejected all the statements made by witnesses at the hearing on 21 February as well as at the subsequent hearing.

The next hearing is scheduled to take place on 24 February.

Witness testimonies at Papuan treason trial

The sixth hearing of the trial of Forkorus Yaboisembet and his four colleagues took place on 21 February at which seven witnesses for the prosecution were called to give evidence. According to the executive-director of the LB3PH, Yan Christian Warinussy, six of the seven of the witnesses were members of the police force who  had been involved in the attack against the Third Papuan Peace Conference (KRP-III) on the third day of the event, 19 October 2011.Six of these witnesses were unable to answer questions from the chief prosecutor regarding the declaration that was allegedly read out at the end of the  conference nor could they say whether the five defendants had been involved in a criminal conspiracy to set up the Federal Republic of West Papua.One of the witnesses who had been summoned was Drs Alfons Rumbekwan, a member of the Majelis Rakyat Papua. Speaking for the defence team, Olga Helena  Hamadi said that this person should not testify at the trial because the majelis of which he is a member is the cultural body of the indigenous Papuan people. Since the trial was related to the political aspirations of the Papuan people, his appearance might cause a conflict between the MRP and the Papuan people. It was agreed that Drs Rumbekwan  would not be called to give testimony.

According to a lengthy report of the hearing in Bintang Papua, the police witnesses appeared not to know the defendants and were unaware of the declaration by Forkorus calling for the re-establishment of the Federal Republic of West Papua.

According to Bintang Papua, for example, the first witness, Lambertus Limbong Sattu, a member of the Jayapura City police force who reportedly told the hearing that he did not know the identity of one of the accused, Agustinus Sananay Kraar, when he pulled him into the police vehicle but only knew his name after they reached police headquarters. He told the court that he had not seen the document proclaiming the establishment of the Federal Republic of West Papua but confirmed that there was a banner  on which were inscribed with the words: ‘Let Us Affirm the Basic Rights of the Papuan Indigenous People, Today and in the Future’.

The second witness, Aamet Mahu told the court that he was in the vicinity of the venue of the KRP-III  on 19 October 2011 and was there on orders to handle security of the conference.

The defence team of the five defendants said that all the testimony given on that day in court was in way related to the charges in the indictment.

Rallies reject Indonesian status quo in Papua, and demand referendum

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February 22, 2012

By Nick Chesterfield at WestPapuaMedia.info with local sources

Thousands of people took part in peacful rallies across West Papua on Monday, February 20,  rejecting attempts by Indonesia to impose new development policies on Papua, and demanding an internationally supervised referendum as the key step towards solving the Papua problem.

The rallies, organised by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), took place in Jayapura, Biak,  Manokwari, Timika, Nabire, Wamena, Yakuhimo and Merauke.  According to initial reports, all rallies remained peaceful despite standard Indonesian security force threats to forcibly break up proceedings.

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In Jayapura, a long march was held from Abepura to the offices of the Papuan People’s Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua or MRP) with the crowd of close to a thousand people shouting “we want referendum”; “Special autonomy has failed, why start it again”; and “We reject the dialogue between Jakarta and Papua and demand a Referendum”.

Mako Tabuni, on behalf of the KNPB, told the gathering that the the plans by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to impose a new body U4PB (or Program to Accelerate Development of Papua and West Papua) to implement the failed Special Autonomy package is not a solution to the problems in Papua and was thoroughly rejected by West Papuan people.  Only a Referendum would address those grievances, and it must be. held soon.  U4PB, with authority over all of Papua, is to be headed by former army intelligence chief Bambang Darmono, himself subject to numerous allegations of human rights abuses whilst stationed in Aceh.

Tabuni expanded: “when in Papua, there are two paths of narrow and wide roads. Papuan Special Autonomy the road is paved with a lot of money, including UP4B, but the road is narrow.  The road to independence is a wide open road, like the road to referendum being fought KNPB”.

Former Political Prisoners Yusak Pakage and Saul Bomay echoed the KNPB concerns and demanded that Indonesia just try to listen to the will of the people and stop trying to implement policies proven to have been a failure, like Special Autonomy.

The demonstrators dispersed peacefully with a promise of escalation of mass actions.

westpapuamedia

General SBY - Military approach will not solve Papua's problems

Presidential palace still fails to understand the situation in Papua

General SBY - Military approach will not solve Papua's problems

Bintang Papua, 19 February, 2012Manokwari: The holding of constructive dialogue or communications between Jakarta and Papua as mentioned by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) is regarded in some circles as being part of the solution to the problems occurring in Papua.In the opinion of Mervin Komber, a Papuan member of the DPR, the Indonesian Parliament, such a dialogue should take its cue from the road map for Papua, and lead to better living conditions for the  Papuan people. According to Komber, in order to achieve this, the agenda for such a dialogue should reflect the actual conditions currently confronted by the  Papuan  people.

With regard to the leaders who should be invited to participate in such a dialogue, they should be  people with the ability to deal with all aspects of the situation, including governance, parliament, customary groups, spiritual leaders as well as including people from the ranks for ordinary Papuans who enjoy the confidence of their respective groups.

‘All of us  who are in favour of dialogue must seek to achieve something positive for Papua,’ he said in Manokwari recently.

While he supports dialogue, Komber is critical of recent steps taken by SBY in his attempts to work out the best format  for the dialogue. In his opinion, the President’s decision to ask Papuan religious leaders  for their opinion  about the format and the agenda for this dialogue was a mistake. Komber believes that the religious leaders will themselves be  part of the dialogue, which means that the President should not have discussions with them about the format of the dialogue. But the President should summon provincial and local leadeers such as members of the DPRD, the DPD and academia to get their views on the format.

Moreover, if  only some elements are asked to discuss the format, he fears that this could result in misunderstandings as a result of the various inputs received by SBY. ‘If there are disagreements between some of these leaders, the people around SBY might end up passing on erroneous information about the situation in Papua,’  said Komber  who is a former activist from the Catholic students organisation, PMKRI.

The same might also occur with regard to the final objective of the dialogue, according to Felix Wanggai, a special staff member [not clear what staff this refers to] who looks forward to seeing Papua become a zone of peace. In his opinion, this may mean that the  people at the presidential palace do not properly understand  what it is that the Papuan people want. ‘The dialogue we have in mind is only intended to accelerate development in Papue,’ he said.

Jakarta has still not take any decision about when this dialogue or constructive communication should take place. According to Komber, the Jakarta-Papua dialogue is very urgent indeed and SBY should not postpone it. He went on to say that the dialogue is closely related to the implementation of special autonomy, OTSUS which was enacted eleven years ago. This means, in his opinion, that this dialogue should take place some time before the end of 2012.

‘I very much hope  that it will take place during the course of this year because OTSUS will remain in force for only another ten years, whereas the dialogue should occur while OTSUS remains in force.’

Finally he said that as far as he is concerned, the venue of the dialogue is not  a problem . The crucial thing is that the dialogue should be inspired by the determination to achieve a long term solution for Papua. ‘The dialogue could be held in ways that accord with Papuan traditions, such as those used by customary groups, sitting in their honai, or other such places,’  this young legislator said in conclusion.

[Translated by TAPOL]

Indonesian police conduct armed sweep of treason defendants in their cells

from WestPapuaMedia sources in Jayapura

Monday February 20, 2012

Extraordinary scenes occurred at Abepura prison in West Papua on Saturday night when heavily armed police stormed the cells of non-violent Papuan leaders currently on trial for treason.

The unusual and heavy handed security sweep was carried out between 9-10 pm on Sunday night and involved 3 truckloads of armed Dalmas anti-riot paramilitary police; 2 truckloads of Brimob police, and a detachment of the fully armed prison anti-riot officers.

Forokorus Yaboisembut (Jakarta Globe)

The cells of a number of West Papuan political prisoners were turned over in the sweep, and all prisoners possessions were removed, including pens, paper, files, books, letters, plates, drinking glasses, cutlery knives, guitars, and music tapes, including lawyer-client privileged communications and defence notes.  Mobile phones were not found however, according to sources at the prison.

It is believed the targets were  five leaders of the Third Papuan People’s Congress that peacefully declared independence from Indonesia on October 19, 2010, sparking a brutal and bloody crackdown by Indonesian occupation forces.

Forkorus Yobeisembut, and Edison Waromi, the President and Prime Minister respectively of the Federated Republic of West Papua, together with Selpius Bobbi, Dominikus Sorabut, and Agus Kraar are all on trial for treason charges.  The hearing on Friday had to be suspended after the prisoners refused to return into the courtroom due to concerns of the conduct of witness cross-examinations.  The trial was adjourned to February 21.

Reliable sources close to the accused Congress leaders have told West Papua Media that the raids relate to rumours circulating that the five defendants will be broken apart and moved to separate prisons away from Papua. These rumours have been propagated by unknown parties, however regular prison transfers are a common tactic by the Indonesian state on Papuan political prisoners.  The Indonesian Attorney-General and the Prosecutors office have repeatedly stated publicly that the trial and prisoners would be moved from Papua if any unrest occurs, but there is significant local Papuan resistance to such a move.

Local observers also have suggested that the bizarre raids had occurred after police objected to the defendants conduct in court and sought to reassert the “authority of state” by behaving unpredictably.

According to a series of urgent text messages sent to various advocates, the head of the prison at Abepura opened up the political prisoners section to normal criminals allowing them to mix freely.  This is often a tactic utilised by prison authorities to effect violence on prisoners without prison guards having to commit the abuse personally.  The political prisoners source told West Papua Media that in a disturbingly strange move, the prison chief then invited the political prisoners to sit without resistance with in a room together with hardened murderers, robbers and rapists, many of whom are from other parts of Indonesia.

Prison authorities did not reply to any requests for clarification from West Papua Media about the events at Abepura.