Makar accused reject charges, and Indonesian jurisdiction over Papua in adjourned trial (Photo Report)

January 31, 2012

By Nick Chesterfield from West Papua Media with local sources

(Jayapura) The treason trial against the leaders of the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Jayapura was adjourned on Monday until February 8, after a short hearing that Indonesian authorities moved at the last moment preventing many supporters from attending.

The five defendants, President of the Federated Republic of West Papua (FRWP)  Forkorus Yaboisembut, Prime Minister Edison Waromi, together with Congress organisers Selpius Bobii, Dominikus Sorabut and Agus Sananay were charged with makar or treason under Article 106 of KUHP (the Indonesian Criminal Code) for their declaration of an independent West Papua at the close of the Third Papuan People’s Congress on October 19 last year.

Papuan leaders accused of treason on trial in Jayapura, January 30, 2012

The historic Congress was violently broken up by Indonesian security forces using live fire and excessive violence, with at least seven people killed, hundreds beaten and tortured, despite official permission for the event to be held.  Indonesian security officers involved were given minor disciplinary sanction, with most perpetrators of violence enjoying complete impunity despite footage of the Indonesian security force violence being broadcast internationally.

Initial reports from witnesses inside the trial early in the day claimed that the team of judges argued with the defence legal team about the need to know the political position of the defendant’s, despite the fact that in a treason trial this would be self-evident.  Yaboisembut and Waromi then fundamentally rejected the charges against them, arguing that their actions were not treason“.

Forkorus Yobeisembut (Jakarta Globe)

According to Forkorus as reported by the Jakarta Post, “What we have been doing is seeking our own independence. Thus, we have cheated no one,”.  Forkorus argued that Indonesian occupation of his homeland was the real issue, and that ”this problem is not the problem of separatism and rebellion or treason”.  Both Forkorus and Waromi said that the issue of Papua should be tried in international courts as the Indonesian state did not have jurisdiction over Papua.

Forkorus Yaboisembut (Jakarta Globe)

in a short statement sent to West Papua Media, the defendant’s legal team said that the judge asked Forkorus and the accused understood the indictment.  “He answered that, yes, he understood what the prosecutors read but did not understand the charges of treason against them.”

“Forkorus then asked for time to read a statement to the assembly to process the rejection of the  law, (the request of) which was then approved by a judge.   Our attorneys will do the rebuttal (exception) to the indictment dated 8th February 2012,” according to the legal team led by Hamadi.

(Photo: Efraim Joteni)

Bintang Papua reported that another one of the lawyers for the accused, Gustaf Kawer,said that up to 32 lawyers from across Papua and Indonesia had offered pro-bono defence of the treason accused.  He said: ‘I am convinced that  the large number of lawyers who are attracted by the case is a good sign  of interest in the need to find a solution to the problem of Papua.’

Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi media interview after trial.(Photo: Efraim Joteni)

The Panel of Judges hearing the trial are Chairman of the Jayapura District Court of Class IA, Jayapura, Papua, Jack John Octovianus, SH. MH,;  assisted by I Ketut Nyoman S, SH. MH. Syor Mambrasar, SH. MH. Orpah Marthina, SH. and Willem Marco Erari, SH.

Outside the court hearing, almost 400 hundred heavily armed riot police and a similar number of Army and Kopassus personnel were guarding the courthouse venue from dawn (0600) with close to a dozen armoured assault vehicles, mounted with heavy machine guns, according to participants.

Protest in support of West Papuan leaders in trial for treason (Photo: Efraim Joteni)
Protest in support of West Papuan leaders in trial for treason (Photo: Efraim Joteni)

Participants in the protest claimed to West Papua Media via SMS that security forces were acting in a heavy-handed manner, describing their actions as “wild and aggressive”.    “This display of armour  makes thousands of ordinary people in Jayapura traumatized and afraid to come to action,” said Jack Wainggai, the spokesman for the Prime Minister of the FRWP, Edison Waromi, on trial for treason today.  Organisers had aimed for several thousand people to attend, but amid heavy  Indonesian security that discouraged solidarity protests by West Papuan supporters of the defendants, only 500-600 braved the heavy armour and “state intimidation” outside the court.

Protest in support of West Papuan leaders in trial for treason (Photo: Efraim Joteni)
Brimob outside makar trial (Photo: West Papua Media)
Brimob outside makar trial (Photo: West Papua Media)
one of almost a dozen armoured vehicles securing outside court venue Jan 30 2012 Jayapura (Photo: West Papua Media)

Despite promises by Indonesian authorities that the trials would be open, the presiding judges secretly started proceedings at 8.30 am before supporter could arrive.   In a press statement before the trial, Bintang Papua reported that Olga Hamadi of Kontras Papua said, “The five men will face charges under Article 106 of the Criminal Code for subversion. Based on past experience, there are concerns regarding security during the trial which will be open to the public, meaning that anyone wishing to attend the trial will be able to do so.”  Hamadi urged all present to restrain themselves and ensure that conditions surrounding the trial are conducive.

Speculation has mounted amongst local observers that the trial may be moved from Jayapura to metropolitan Indonesia to reduce any potential political flashpoint it will cause amongst pro-independence forces in Papua, with the prosecutor’s office formally warning of such a move should unrest occur.   Conversely though, any shift would create more opportunities for international observers to be present at the trial, a basic condition called for by the defence and international human rights monitors.

After the adjournment, the few hundred that did attend were able to disperse peacefully without an Indonesian security force crackdown, but tension still remains high in Jayapura as armed troops are still deployed on the streets the following day.

Elsewhere in Papua, solidarity actions were held with the treason trials against the Congress leaders.   In Manokwari, orations were held calling for international peacekeepers to be deployed to protect West Papuan people from Indonesian state violence.  Calls were also made in Manokwari  for neutral international mediators for dialogue between Jakarta and the Federated Republic of West Papua.

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