News from Papua: Filep Karma refuses offer of remission; Census time: huge increase in population of Papua

Articles from Bintang Papua, 17 August 2010
Abridged in translation

While prisoners everywhere will await anxiously for the moment when they
may receive remission of their sentence, this is not the case with a
prisoner charged with ‘makar’ (treason).

Filep Karma (who is serving a 15-year sentence) has once again rejected
the government’s offer of a remission. He made his decision known in a
two-page letter addressed to the minister for law and human rights,
Patrialis Akhar.

At a place in the prison where he was able to make contact with
journalists, he said that he rejects all offers of remission.

‘I consider that I am not guilty of anything. The mere expression of my
democratic rights is not allowed. Yet, in Jakarta, when someone sticks a
photo of the president on the backside of a buffalo, this is not
considered to be a crime.’

He said he would also refuse any offer of clemency.

In the opening paragraph of his letter copies of which are addressed to
26 other addressees including the Indonesian president and Amnesty
International, he said:

‘I, the undersigned, declare in full consciousness of what I am doing
and free from any pressure from any quarter, that I have rejected the
efforts by the government since 2005 to grant me remission by the
department of law and human rights and I shall do so into the
foreseeable future for as long as I continue to have the status of
political prisoner conferred by the Republic of Indonesia.’

He went on to say that this was being done as an act of protect against
all manner of actions by the authoritiesof the Republic of Indonesia in
violation of the Pancasila philosophy and the 1945 Constitution.

As is known, the national day 17 August is always an occasion for the
authorities to grant remission, and on this occasion, it included the
release of fourteen convicted prisoners being held in Abepura Prison
while 115 prisoners were granted remissions of between two and six months.

The remissions were granted in a ceremony led by the law and human
rights minister and the deputy governor of Papua, Alex Hasegam when the
remission letter was given to each of the prisoners in question.

On the same occasion, one prisoner, Filep Karma, who was neatly
dressed, managed to come forward holding a morning star flag in his
hand. But this had nothing to do with being granted remission; it was to
move a sack of garbage to a truck.


Huge increase in population of Papua

The population of the province of Papua has now reached 2,851,999, which
represents a far greater percentage increase than the national increase
of 1.49 percent.

[The report in BPapua refers throughout to the ‘province of Papua’,
presumably meaning this this does not include what is now the province
of West Papua.]

This was announced by the head of the Statistics Bureau of the province
of Papua who said that this was still a provisional announcement
because there would be further announcements about the composition of
the population including ethnicity, migration as well as the number of
births and deaths.

Another official of the bureau said that the huge increase was partly
due to having started from a low base, so the percentage increase
appears to be very high. In addition, he said, the census in 2000 was
far from being complete because the political situation at the time was
very tense, with on-going demands for a referendum and independence for
Papua, with the result that some districts were unable to carry out the

He said that the number of males was in excess of the number of females,
with a recorded difference of 13 percent.

The place with the greatest densisty is Jayapura with 278 persons per
square kilometre followed by Biak with 58 persons per square kilometre..
Mamberamo has the lowest density of all, with only one person per square

[Comment: We can only await the promise of more detailed information
about the ethnic composition of the population, bearing in mind the
reported regular arrival of in-migrants from other parts of Indonesia.
It could very well be that the point has been reached at which Papuans
now account for a minority of the inhabitants, a trend that can only
increase with the recent launch of the MIFEE project in Merauke. TAPOL]

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