Papuan Political Prisoners Released in FakFak

by Andreas Harsono

Simon Tuturop has finished his prison sentence in Fakfak. From outside the jail Tuturop said “Having been in prison for years doesn't mean that I will be quiet, instead prison was a place for study and self-reflection about how to build a struggle together with other brothers and sisters. Unity is the key” (Photo @Elsham Advocacy Team & Foker Fakfak)

Five political prisoners, imprisoned for raising the Morning Star flag on 19 July 2008 in front of the Fakfak Act of Free Choice building, were freed today. They were condemned to four years in prison by the Fakfak court and have now been released having served three years, five months and three days of their sentence.

Simon Tuturop, Tadeus Weripang, Benediktus Tuturop, Tomas Nimbitkendik and Teles Piahar were collected from the prison by Freddy Warpopor, the Fakfak Area Coordinator of Foker NGO Papua, and other friends by two minibuses and several motorbikes, according to a Foker NGO press release.

The group left the prison at 09:30. They went to the house of Eligius Warpopor, a community leader in Gewerpe Village, where they were greeted by the people of Gerwerpe. Simon Tuturop made a speech thanking the people of Gewerpe Village, as well as the Papuan Customary Institute (Lembaga Adat Papua), Elsham Papua, Foker NGO, LP3BH Manokwari, Amnesty International and the ICRC. He said that they had helped to greatly reduce their suffering in prison.

Simon Tuturop being welcomed by the people of Gerwerbe Village. Photo @Elsham Advocacy Team & Foker Fakfak

Simon Tuturop, originally from Fakfak, is a leading figure of the non-violent movement for Papua liberation. In 1982 he joined in a proclamation of West Papuan independence in Jayapura. He was sentenced to twelve years in Kalisosok prison, Surabaya. In 1998, as President Suharto fell, Tuturop and other political prisoners across the whole of Indonesia were set free. He then went to work in Aceh, to help with social projects for Achenese people who had become refugees of Indonesia’s war with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM)

On 19 July 2008, Tuturop led a flag-raising of the Morning Star flag where 44 people were arrested by Indonesian police. Five were found guilty by the Indonesian court in Fakfak and convicted of treason under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian criminal code. Elsham Papua, LP3BH Manokwari and Foker NGO Papua regard them as innocent prisoners of conscience who did not committed any violent acts. To express a desire for independence is part of the freedom to express political aspirations. It is not a criminal act. These three organisations continued to advocate for them and defend them.

Tadeus Waripang returns to his home in Kampung Wayati. Photo @ Elsham Advocacy Team & Foker Fakfak

The group then continued their journey to Wayati Village to bring Tadeus Weripang back home. The people of Wayati Village and the village chief were already waiting for Tadeus Weripang’s arrival.

Warpopor said, “It was a great welcome, despite the tumultous atmosphere. Some people shed tears.” Village chief Plerius Kondawe gave his thanks to the three organisations.

The villagers asked Freddy Warpopor to explain about President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono‘s meeting with Papuan church leaders. Warpopor encouraged the villagers to pay attention to any developments which may arise. He said that President Yudhoyono “was already open to dialogue with the Papuan people.”

“Let’s all support this process, so that we can determine the right format that Papuans will later use in the dialogue, and another important thing is that this struggle is a non-violent struggle. Let’s unite to save the country and this land of Papua,”said Warporpor.

Posted by Andreas Harsono

Translated by Tapol

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