Daily Archives: December 11, 2010

HRW: Indonesia: Explain Transfer of Imprisoned Activists

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Release All Political Prisoners
December 10, 2010

“Prisoners have rights too, and ignoring those rights is no way to celebrate Human Rights Day. The authorities should explain why Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni have been thrown in a police lock-up and denied access to lawyers.”

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch


(New York) – The Indonesian authorities should immediately allow two Papuan political prisoners and three others to fairly contest their transfer from prison to a police headquarters and permit them access to their lawyers, Human Rights Watch said today. Filep Karma, 51, and Buchtar Tabuni, 31, have been held at the Jayapura police station in West Papua since being brought there a day after a riot at Abepura prison on December 3, 2010.

On international Human Rights Day, Human Rights Watch also reiterated its call for the Indonesian government to free immediately the more than 130 Papuan and Moluccan activists imprisoned for peacefully voicing political views, and to reform laws and policies to protect freedom of expression.

“Prisoners have rights too, and ignoring those rights is no way to celebrate Human Rights Day,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should explain why Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni have been thrown in a police lock-up and denied access to lawyers.”

The Jayapura police chief, Commissionaire Imam Setiawan, told the media that the police had “secured” Karma and Tabuni at the Jayapura police station for provoking a riot that occurred at Abepura prison following an attempted prison break on December 3 in which a prisoner was shot and killed. Karma and Tabuni informed Federika Korain of the United Papuan People’s Democracy Forum (FORDEM) that they were transferred to the police station without being told that they had committed an offense.

Under the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, “[N]o prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offense alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defense.”

Since being taken to the police station, Karma and Tabuni have requested access to their legal counsel but have been refused. On December 8, Karma’s lawyer, Harry Masturbongs, came to the station but was not allowed to meet with his client. The police have also refused to let Karma’s family visit him.

According to the UN Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, an “imprisoned person shall be entitled to communicate and consult with his legal counsel.” The rights of an “imprisoned person to be visited by and to consult and communicate, without delay or censorship and in full confidentiality, with his legal counsel may not be suspended or restricted save in exceptional circumstances, to be specified by law or lawful regulations, when it is considered indispensable by a judicial or other authority in order to maintain security and good order.”

On December 9, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the third Bali Democracy Forum, which is aimed at promoting regional international cooperation to foster democracy and political development among countries in Asia. President Yudhoyono said in his opening speech, “There are a lot of variants of democracy but there must be universal values and spirits within the democracy itself.” Human Rights Watch called on the Indonesian government to respect the basic right to free expression, as laid out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2006.

“Holding political prisoners is embarrassing and totally out-of-step with the image of a modern democratic state that Indonesia is trying to project,” Pearson said. “President Yudhoyono should show his commitment to basic rights by freeing people imprisoned for the peaceful expression of their political views, including Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni.”


Filep Karma, age 51, has been in Abepura prison for six years. In May 2005, the Abepura district court found him guilty of treason for organizing a Papuan independence rally on December 1, 2004, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

Buchtar Tabuni, age 31, is a leader of the West Papua National Committee, a Papuan independence organization that has grown more radical since his imprisonment. He was arrested in Jayapura on December 3, 2008, for organizing protests against the shooting of his relative, Opinus Tabuni. He was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment under article 160 of the Criminal Code for “inciting hatred” against the Indonesian government.

Human Rights Watch has documented beatings in Abepura prison in 2008 and 2009 that led to investigations into prison conditions by the National Human Rights Commission and the removal of the previous prison warden.

Human Rights Watch’s June 2010 report, Prosecuting Political Aspiration, describes the mistreatment of individuals serving prison sentences for peaceful acts of free expression in Papua and the Moluccas Islands, including Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni.

KomnasHAM holds dialogue about cases of violence in Papua

JUBI, 8 December 2010

KomnasHAM is trying hard to discuss the continuing violations of human
rights and the use of violence still occurring in Papua, Ridha Saleh
told journalists in Jayapura on Wednesday. He said that after reporting
the videos of torture and the burning of prisoners’ vital organs to the
military commander of Cenderawasih Military Command, they were keen to have a dialogue and seek opinions about these violations that are still occurring in Papua.

He said too that prior to reporting the case of the videos, they had
undertaken investigations and collected data about these cases which
occurred recently in Puncak Jaya. They were told that according to the army and the local people, there are three elements who have been causing chaos in Puncak Jaya, the TPN/OPM, the Indonesian army and o-called unknown elements.

A dialogue had taken place with all these people and also involved some other people, including some academics, the department of law and human rights, the army and members of the community.. The dialogue took place at Swissbel Hotel in Jayapura.

[This is the first time we have read about such a dialogue having taken
place. TAPOL]

Karma continues his hunger strike; KomnasHAM unable to visit Filep and Buchtar

via Tabloid JUBI, 9 December 2010

Karma continues his hunger strike
The political prisoner, Filep Karma has said that he will continue with
his hunger strike, not taking food or drink, until he is returned to
Abepura Prison in Jayapura.

‘I will continue with my hunger strike until I am returned by the
police,’ he said when he met with JUBI. He said he was very
disappointed with the way he was being treated, being accused with
Buchtar Tabuni of causing a riot in the prison last Friday, 3 December.

‘There is no justification for all this treatment towards us,’ he said.

According to JUBI who met him at the police headquarters, even though he is on hunger strike, he looks healthy and keeps smiling.

The head of the District Office of the Department of Law and Human
Rights, Nazaruddin Bunas said that Karma and Tabuni were transferred to police custody because they were the ones who were behind the rioting in Abepura Prison, which is why they are at present in police custody.

The director of Abepura Prison said that he knows nothing about the
transfer of the two prisoners.


JUBI, 8 December 2010

KomnasHAM unable to visit Filep and Buchtar

The deputy head of the National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta, M. Ridah Saleh has expressed his disappointment at not being able to meet Filep Karma and Buchtar Tauni and regrets the fact that their families are not being given access, either

‘The police told us that we should make contact with the prison, even
though we have been given permission to meet them by the police (in
police custody),’ said Ridah Saleh.

He said that the rights of prisoners should be fully protected and
KomnasHAM and members of their families should be given the opportunity to visit the two men. Access to them must not be closed’

Their rights to get medical treatment must also be respected, to avoid
any further problems.

Members of their families are also hoping for access because this is in
accordance with the procedures. This should also apply to the other
three prisoners.

Before going to the police, they had paid a visit to the direskrim
(criminal investigation) where they met Petrus Waine, who said that
KomnasHAM could come and discuss the matter of there being no access to the two prisoners but when they arrived there, no disreskrim people were available to meet them.

‘This is very disappointing indeed, because we were given a promise but when we went there, there was no one who wanted to meet us to discuss this matter.’

The plan of KomnasHAM to visit Filep and Buchtar also had to be
abandoned because these two political prisoners had been moved away from Abepura Prison.

Australian Greens: Government fails to cut ties with torture unit

Australian Greens

Government fails to cut ties with torture unit

Media Release | Spokesperson Scott Ludlam

Wednesday 8th December 2010, 4:46pm

The Australian Greens have criticised the Government for failing to take action in response to allegations an Indonesian unit supported by Australian authorities has used torture against peaceful protestors.

On November 4 this year Greens legal affairs spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam, called on the Government to stop funding Detachment 88, an Indonesian “counter-terrorism’ unit that has been linked to a series of human rights abuses.

“Demonstrators arrested in Ambon, in Maluku, unveiled their independence flag at an event at which the Indonesian president was present – this had nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever. They were subsequently jailed and many of them tortured and hospitalised,” Senator Ludlam said. “70 political activists in Maluku have been imprisoned since 2007.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reported this week that the total Australian Federal Police financial support for counter-terrorism initiatives in South East Asia in the 2009/10 was $16.3 million. DFAT said while the AFP is not directly involved in Detachment 88 operational activities, the AFP’s support to the Indonesian National Police includes that unit.

Senator Ludlam said that while Australian officials provide support to Detachment 88, it is not enough to leave investigations of the unit’s conduct in the hands of the Indonesian authorities.

“We are told the AFP does not have the power to investigate what Detachment 88 has done, but it does have the power to stop funding and supporting the unit,” he said. “The United States introduced a ban on training or assisting Detachment 88 members in Maluku in 2008 after the allegations of torture first emerged in 2007, but our Government has not issued a similar ban, which is much-needed.”

Detachment 88’s major facility at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Co-operation was established in 2004 with almost $40 million of Australian funding. According to its website, most of the counter-terrorism seminars at the Centre are run by the AFP, and it is a major beneficiary of $16.3 million in annual funding allocated to the AFP to combat terrorism in south-east Asia.


Indonesia: Respect Rights of Papuan Prisoners Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni

Indonesia: Respect Rights of Papuan Prisoners Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) urge the Indonesian Government to respect the rights of and end the persecution of internationally recognized prisoners of conscience Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni who were transferred from Abepura Prison to Jayapura Police Headquarters on December 3.

ETAN and WPAT also urge the U.S. government to use its considerable influence with the Indonesian government and police, deriving in part from its extensive assistance to and training of the police, to ensure that persecution of these prisoners of conscience ceases.

The transfer of Karma, Tabuni and several other prisoners to the police headquarters followed a riot at the prison which in turn was prompted by the killing of one of five prisoners who had escaped the previous day. The authorities are accusing the two activists of inciting the riot. However, reliable reports says that Karma and Tabuni had sought to calm the situation at the prison.

Karma is serving a 15-year sentence for raising a Papuan flag in 2004, while Buchtar Tabuni is serving a three-year sentence after supporting the launch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in October 2008.

Since their transfer to the police headquarters Karma and Tabuni reportedly have had very limited contact with their families and no contact with legal counsel. Karma has launched a hunger strike in support of his demand for proper treatment for himself, Tabuni and the other transferred prisoners, including access to adequate food or drink.

ETAN and WPAT note that Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that “All  persons who are deprived of their freedom must be treated humanely and with respect for their dignity as human beings.”  ETAN and WPAT also note that under Indonesian regulations Karma and Tabuni are entitled to correspond with and receive visits from their families, legal counsel and others.

ETAN and WPAT are also deeply concerned that the Indonesian authorities may seek to pursue charges against Karma and Tabuni related to the prison riot. Such a course would be particularly ironic insofar as the Indonesian authorities have failed to prosecute the security force personnel who were recorded torturing two Papuans in May 2010.

Observers in West Papua are concerned that the authorities may transfer Karma and Tabuni to the infamous Nusakembangan prison in Java, where violent criminals are incarcerated. As nonviolent prisoners of conscience, Karma and Tabuni would be at risk. Such a transfer would also make it much more difficult for their families and counsel to monitor their welfare. ETAN and WPAT strongly urge that Karma and Tabuni not be transferred out of West Papua.

Contact: Ed McWilliams – 401-568-5845
John M. Miller (ETAN) -917-690-4391

see also West Papua Report