Comment by Yan Christian Warinussy, senior lawyer in West Papua, recipient of the John Humphreys Freedom Award, 2005
December 13, 2013
The latest treason verdict against seven West Papuans is yet another example of the serious human rights situation in West Papuan, in particular with regard to the right to freedom of expression. The seven men were headed by Isak Kalaiban.
Based on the facts revealed during the course of the trial, it is clear that there was a plan between the accused to freely give expression to their views in a way that is based on the rule of law.
This occurred on 1 May 2013 after Isak and his colleagues brought the families of the accused together on the previous day at their home in Aimas-Sorong. While they were meeting together, a police patrol in Sorong began to opened fire at the group of people, as a result of which four people were killed or wounded.
At the trial, the men were charged with treason (makar) by the court in Sorong before a panel of judges headed by Maria Magdalena Sitanggung.
None of the witnesses questioned at the trial said anything about what had taken place on the day before, 30 April.
For the legal team defending the accused, the question is who indeed is it that perpetrated treason in view of the fact that none of the witnesses who appeared in the trial knew anything about the men who were being charged.
This is yet another case in which the accused were charged under Articles 106, 108 and 110 to prevent people in Sorong from giving free expression to their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as provided for by Law 39/1999 on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
JAYAPURA, 9/10 – Papuan Provincial Governor, Lukas Enembe, shows progress by inviting foreign journalists to visit the most Eastern part of Indonesia.
“Yes, why not? Of course they can come here, there is no problem, because foreign journalists must see straight away the progress which is happening here in Papua,” said Governor Lukas Enembe to journalists in Jayapura, Wednesday (9/10).
What has happened or occurred in Papua cannot be hidden, because the outside world must also know what is actually happening in Papua. If this matter is hidden, the outside world will ask questions.
“Foreign journalists must see the progress which is happening in Papua. We can’t hide what is definitely happening here, but if we are open they can see the massive changes which are occurring,” he said.
Before, Independent Journalist Alliance (AJI) a press organisation, has not yet seen a positive reaction from the Indonesian government about the international community’s demands which are to allow open access for international journalists in Papua. In 2012, Marty Natalegawa the Indonesian Foreign Minister, said to a group of foreign journalists in Indonesia that there were 35 foreign journalists who were given access to the Papuan Province from 2011 – 2012. Although these journalists experienced Papua, not all journalists can gain coverage of the news in Papua.
“Seven foreign journalists have been deported from Papua because of their journalistic work. Marty then promised to review this case, although he confessed he was worried about their safety,” said Jayapura’s AJI Worker’s Union & Avocation’s co-ordinator, Jack Wally.
According to AJI Jayapura, who reject Marty’s statement saying some journalists from New Zealand, Netherlands, England and Australia all experienced difficulties when submitting and applying for entry visas into Papua. AJI Jayapura sees the Indonesian government as not having an attitude which is clear between limiting and opening a space for foreign journalists, because there’s not yet any formal regulations which limit foreign journalists from entering Papua, but in practice international journalists believe they’re limited because of the difficulties in obtaining an entry visa. AJI Jayapura see this situation as proving the grey space which allows the hampering of independent and free press processes in Indonesia, which in turn has the potential to downgrade Indonesia in the World Press Freedom Index.
AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Three West Papuan student activists entered the Australian consulate in Bali this weekend with calls on Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to open up for greater press freedom and push Indonesia to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in the Indonesian-ruled region.
“We want the Indonesian government to lift the 50 year restriction it has imposed on West Papua.
“We want foreigners, including journalists, diplomats, observers and tourists to be able to visit West Papua freely without asking for special permits,” the West Papuans wrote in an open letter addressed to the Australian people.
Several organisations have asked Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans, but according to Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb the West Papuans did not seek asylum.
“They left [the consulate] voluntarily so the matter’s been resolved,” Robb said, according to Radio Australia.
The Guardian, however, reported that the consul-general had warned the three West Papuans that the Indonesian army would be called if they did not leave the consulate.
One of the students, Rofinus Yanggam, told the newspaper the group left in fear of their lives.
Calls for sanctuary
Australian independent senator Nick Xenophon called on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.
“These three young men were not asking for West Papuan independence from Indonesia. All they were asking for is entirely consistent with the Lombok Treaty of 2006, signed by both Australia and Indonesia,” he said, according to AAP.
“Instead of getting sanctuary and help, the Australian government effectively threatened them and now there is serious concern over the activists’ safety,” Xenophon said.
Professor Clinton Fernandes at the University of New South Wales backed Xenophon’s call.
He said when the media circus had moved on after APEC, the trio “may be tried, most certainly they will be beaten, and at some point might be disappeared”.
Rinto Kogoya, co-ordinator of the Alliance of Papuan Students, said it was time the world understood what was happening inside the province, which was officially acquired by Indonesia in 1969.
“The international community doesn’t know the reality in Papua. The military oppresses the civil society – we’re not free to do anything – and I think this is the moment to open democracy to Papua,” he said in The Guardian.
Joe Collins, of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA), was alarmed by the events at the Australian consulate in Bali.
“It’s of great concern that they [the West Papuan students] may have been coerced to leave as the students would have great reason to fear the Indonesian security forces.
“There are ongoing human rights abuses in West Papua and the security forces have been banning and cracking down on recent rallies to try and stop international attention being focused on the territory,” he said in a statement.
AWPA wrote a letter to the consul-general Brett Farmer in Bali yesterday asking for “clarification” regarding the students.
“We understand that they have now left the consulate and we would like clarification from you if they left voluntarily or as some media reports have indicated that they were told that they would be handed over to the Indonesian military if they did not leave,” AWPA wrote in the letter.
Australian Green senator Dr Richard Di Natale has also joined those who have called for Australia to give sanctuary to the three West Papuans.
“By speaking out in this way, these brave West Papuans have put their lives in serious danger.
“If Australia fails to offer them protection, I have grave fears for their safety,” he said in a statement.
‘Stand up to Indonesia’
Yet another senator to voice his support for West Papua this weekend was John Madigan.
“It is about time our government had the courage to stand up to Indonesia, instead of ignoring the issue of West Papuan oppression and the human rights abuses that occur there on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.
He also said he demanded that the Australian government provided sanctuary for the three West Papuans.
The issue of the West Papuan students came just days after pleas from several organisations that Australia should not deport seven West Papuans who arrived in the Torres Strait Islands in northern Queensland recently.
The group of seven, who took part in the recent West Papua Freedom Flotilla sought asylum in Australia, but were deported to Papua New Guinea under a memorandum of understanding between Australia and Papua New Guinea, Radio New Zealand International reported.
Refugee advocates in Australia said the deportation failed to abide by the Refugee Convention that Australia was a party to.
Spokesperson for the West Papua Freedom Flotilla Izzy Brown said she wanted to draw the United Nations’ attention to Australia’s commitment to the Refugee Convention.
“It’s really unfortunate that Australia thinks it can send asylum seekers offshore without due process or just blatantly illegally deported like in this case here, and we really want to try and draw the world’s attention and especially the UN’s attention to Australia’s behaviour in this matter,” she said.
Compiled by West Papua Media stringers and reports from West Papua National Authority:
At 8pm on the 25th of September 2013 in Serui, Yapen Island, members of police, mobile brigade, military and Detachment 88 complete with weapons made a forceful arrest of former Papuan political prisoner and organsiser, Edison Kendi. Edison’s family watched on, unable to do anything but witness the brutality carried out by the security personnel against Kendi. He was taken to the Serui Police station and interrogated. At 11pm police continued to destroy property around Kendi’s house while looking for documents thought to be related to the Freedom Flotilla, however nothing was found.
The next day, 26th September 2013 several thousand people did a pick-up at the Serui airport, and walked to Mantembu, as a thanksgiving worship to welcome the arrival of ashes and water that were taken to Yapen Island by Frans Kapisa. Two people who intended to come and participate in the thanksgiving were Demmiamus Brumi and Nataneal Karubaba, however they were prevented from exercising their freedom of expression and obstructed by security personnel, forcefully arrested and taken to the Serui Police Station, according to credible but anonymous sources.
As the thanksgiving was taking place, the security forces forcefully dispersed the crowd, threw away all the food that was provided by the community in Serui, according to witnesses. The situation escalated into panic according to organisers, several of the participants and organisers protected Frans Kapisa and brought him to a place which they judged to be safe.
According to sources for West Papua Media, “Not only the participants were victims of the police brutality but also the whole community of Yapen Island. At that point in time the people where not able to carry out any activities whatsoever. The District Police Chief (Kapolres) also instructed his forces to fire should there be any resistance from the people. After 8pm, 3 of the people arrested where released, namely Edison Kendi, Demianus Burumi and Natanael Karubaba.
The following people are still on the run from the police, and grave fears are held for their long term safety;
1. Drs . Frans Fredrik Kapisa
2. Markus Yenu
3. Martinus Wondamani
4. Marselus Daimboa
5. Yani Manyamboi
6. Piter Tiowai
7. Agus Ayamseba
8. Herman Warmetan
9. Ruben Bonay
10. Asalon Wanggori
Eduard Paririe, a Papuan activist in Yapen told West Papua Media, “that whatever the security forces (do) against the people does not diminish their will to struggle and demand justice in the land of Papua.
The following is information direct from West Papua National Authority:
The situation has begun un 25 September 2013 as West Papuan National Authority activists heard on Radio Republik Indonesia that the chief of police in Yapen had prohibited all Papuans in Yapen from taking part in a demonstration planned for 26 September.
The police under the command of the head of Criminal Investigation [Kabag Reskrim Polres] arrested Edison Kendi (40 years old), a political leader of Papua Merdeka at his home at 8 pm. This action involved twenty policemen who were not dressed in their uniforms, together with two members of Kopassus. Some of the police were armed with M16s and pistols and were travelling in Avansa 2 vehicles, one of which was black and the other two were white, together with a patrol vehicle.
The police said that these people had been arrested because they had not been granted permission to undertake this action and moreover, the group in question is not registered with the National and Political Unit as is required by the Law on Mass Organisations (Ormas) . They were intending to hand over the holy waters to the Aboriginal People from Torres Straits and were accompanied by Drs Frans Kapisa.
Edison Kendi was arrested in accordance with a warrant issued by the police in Yapen and signed by the head of the unit.
Edison Kendi was taken to police headquarters to be interrogated. This interrogation is still continuing.
Following the arrested of Edison Kendi, more police arrived in two trucks to search Edison’s home, hoping to find evidence against him such as documents of Papua Merdeka. This happened late at night, at 10.22.
On 26 September at 7.12 in the morning, the Yapen police force carried out sweepings and arrested Demianus Buruni while he was on his way to the Serui Airport where he was intending to take part in welcoming Drs Frans Kapisa while was bringing the holy waters and dust from the Aboriginal people. The other reason for Demianus’ arrest was that he was carrying a Morning Star flag. At the time of writing this report, Demianus was still being interrogated.
At 11.34, a joint force of the army and the police in Yapen led by the chief of the military unit and the chief of the police force went to the place where the proceedings to hand over the holy waters and dust from Aboriginal people in Mantembu were due to take place. The army and police also ordered the people there to disperse and to vacate the area where these activities were taking place. They also ordered the arrest of Dra Frans Kapisa and Markus Yenu. Subsequently however, the local people were able to free these two men.
At the time of writing, the security forces were on guard in the area where the command post of Papua Merdeka in Kampung Mantebu is located.
Merauke: A member of the Regional Legislative Assembly of Merauke has once against drawn attention to the activities now under way by a company called PT Dongeng Prabawa. The crucial issue he raised relates to the sago trees belonging to the people living in various kampungs in the District of Ngguti.
‘I want to say to the company that if the sago trees which have been protected and looked after by the Marind people for generations are felled to make way for an investment project, you will be killing the indigenous Papuan people. Sago is the basic foodstuff for the indigenous people and it is unacceptable for the you to destroy their trees.’.
Hendrikus Hengky Ndiken said areas where the sago trees grow must not be dealt with in this way by the company. It is unacceptable for these areas where local people live to be exploited. What are the people going to eat if their source of food is destroyed?
He also insisted that the company abide by the agreement to pay for their land.which amounts to Rp30 billion. They must pay up now and not pay in instalments. ‘They have billions of rupiahs so how can it be that they cannot comply with their obligations to the people? If you can’t pay up, then you had better get out, he said.
He went on to say that he had visited a kampung called kampung Senegi and asked the people what they had received from the company. They said that they had received nothing except for a church.
The local district chief Romanus Mbaraks said that not all the trees belonging to the people had been destroyed. In some sacred areas, the people had guarded their trees. ‘I ask the people to report to us if their sago trees have been destroyed by the company.’