Recovering the State of West Papua, Sentenced to Three Years in Jail

Recovering the State of West Papua, Sentenced to Three Years in Jail

by John Pakage for West Papua Media


Forkorus Yoboisembut, Edison Gladius Waromi, Agustinus M. Sananay Kraar,
Selpius Bobii and Dominikus Sorabut were sentenced to three years in prison, Friday (16/3). They were charged with founding the independent state of West Papua.

However according to the accused, the Third Papuan Congress simply affirmed the Papuan independence that was in place before Indonesia entered Papua.

“The Congress merely renewed the independence of Papua that was previously in place before Indonesia came to Papua” stated Forkorus to Cermin Papua in Jayapura (16/3).

Therefore, according to Forkorus, it is Indonesia that should be accused of subversion, given how it used military force to enter Papua.

The public knows that the Third Congress took place with official Indonesian government permit, from both Jakarta and regional police, authorizing the holding of the Congress in Jayapura.

Even though this official permit was granted, Indonesian police and military still attacked and captured Congress participants that were present at the time, without first issuing any warrant as required by the law.

Before the conviction and sentencing, the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua) asked the government to liberate the five accused in accordance with the UN’s Human Rights regulation of 2007 which affirms the right to self-determination of indigenous nations, including the West Papuan nation.

Representing the accused, attorney Gustaf Kawer stated that since the Third Congress until today, Papua has yet to exit Indonesia, such that the Congress must be considered as an expression of the democratic right to free speech.

“Until now Papua is still part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia; therefore though the accused are convicted of subversion, these accusations are unfounded” said Kawer.

Reacting to the three year prison sentencing, the accused rejected the decision and stated their intention to continue to seek justice.

CP/ John Pakage

Treason trials hand down guilty verdict on Congress leaders: reports

from West Papua Media sources in Jayapura

March 16, 2012

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

(Jayapura):  Hundreds of security forces are on the streets around Jaypura, West Papua, in a show of force as an Indonesian court found five Congress leaders guilty of Makar (treason), and sentenced the defendants each to three years in prison.

The five defendants, Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selfius Bobii, Dominikus Sorabut, and Agus Kraar, were leaders and organisers of the Third Papuan People’s Congress held on October 19 2011, which was brutally broken up by Indonesian security forces after Forkorus  – the Chairman of the Papuan Tribal Council elected as President of the Federated Republic of West Papua – unilaterally reaffirmed West Papua’s independence from Indonesia.

Today’s hearing at the Jayapura Class 1A District Court, the 15th hearing in a trial described by international observers of “descending into farce”, closed after the panel of judges led by Jack Johan Oktavianus declared that the defendants had committed treason under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

During the trial, several Indonesian Brimob paramilitary police officers who opened fire on the Congress gathering, admitted they had no proof that the accused had committed treason before they opened fire on unarmed civilians.

No member of the Indonesian security forces, who during the breakup of Congress were filmed committing acts of brutality and violence on unarmed civilians, were criminally charged and so far have not receive any sanction for the unprovoked attack.

On March 14, another defendant from the Third Papuan Peoples’, Gat Wenda, was also found guilty of makar charges, but was sentence to five months gaol, less time he has already served since his arrest.

Lawyers for the defendants, themselves under threat of prosecution and harassment by Indonesian security forces for their advocacy for the accused, have planned to appeal the decisions, saying “we think this decision is a disaster.”

In SMS messages sent from the legal team to West Papua Media, senior lawyer Olga Hamadi said “we think the judgement from the full bench is out of tune with what actually happened.  We will appeal this to the High Court”.

Gustaf Kawer, another senior member of the legal team, also told West Papua Media via SMS that “the judges considered ambiguous and inconsistent testimony.  (Yet) there is evidence of free expression and democracy that was ruled,” Kawar said, referring to the democratic rights and obligations adhered to by the Congress leaders.

A massive show of military hardware has caused major fear on the streets of Jayapura, with most poeple staying away from demonstrations for fear of an imminent military crackdown.  600 Heavily armed Brimob riot police and 300 Indonesian army soldiers are surrounding the streets around the court, backed up by several water cannon, 13 Barracuda armoured vehicles, and seven Army Panzers (assault vehicles).

Security forces today have, according to local civil resistance sources, used this show of force to actively prevent supporters of the accused to attend court.

The atmosphere has been described as highly tense with Papuan supporters of the convicted men outraged, but terrified, according to SMS messages from sources on the ground.


This is a developing situation – please stay tuned.

HRW: Five Papuans Convicted for Peaceful Protest

English: Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Лого...
Image via Wikipedia

For Immediate Release


Indonesia: Five Papuans Convicted for Peaceful Protest
Amend Treason Law to Uphold Free Speech

(New York, March 16, 2012) – The Indonesian government should drop the politically motivated treason charges against five Papuan activists who were convicted on March 16, 2012, and order their release, Human Rights Watch said today.

The district court in Jayapura, the Papuan provincial capital, convicted the five men and sentenced them to three years in prison for statements made at a Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011. The demonstration was brutally suppressed by the authorities, leaving at least three people dead. The five men convicted on March 16 are Selpius Bobii, a social media activist, August Sananay Kraar, a civil servant, Dominikus Sorabut, a filmmaker, Edison Waromi, a former political prisoner, and Forkorus Yaboisembut, a Papuan tribal leader.

“If the Indonesian government wants to make an example out of these people, then it should free them as a symbol of its commitment to free expression,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Instead, the legacy of the Papuan Congress crackdown will be five unjust convictions, while those responsible for the violence go unpunished.”

On October 19, 2011, in Jayapura, Indonesian security forces used excessive force to break up a three-day People’s Congress demonstration supporting independence for Papua, Human Rights Watch said. After Yaboisembut, one of the leaders, read aloud the 1961 Papua Declaration of Independence, police and the army fired warning shots to disperse the approximately 1,000 Papuans gathered. The security forces then used batons and in some instances firearms against the demonstrators, killing at least three and injuring more than 90 others. Witnesses said that demonstrators had been struck on the head and several suffered gunshot wounds.

Following the incident, 17 police officers, including the Jayapura police chief, Imam Setiawan and seven of his subordinates, were given written warnings for committing a disciplinary infraction by not giving priority to the protection of civilians. However, no other action was taken against police or military personnel for possible misuse of force.

The trial of the five activists raised serious due process concerns, Human Rights Watch said. During the trial, the defense told the court that police questioned their clients in the first 24 hours of arrest without the presence of lawyers. The defense also alleged that the men were beaten by police while in custody. Police allegedly kicked Yaboisembut in the chest and beat his head with a rifle butt. Sorabut testified that the police beat him on his head with a pistol and struck his body repeatedly with an M-16 assault rifle. Kraar said he was hit by police twice on the head with a pistol.

Human Rights Watch renewed its call for the Indonesian government to release all political prisoners and allow human rights organizations and foreign journalists unimpeded access to Papua.

The Indonesian Criminal Code should be amended to ensure that no one is prosecuted for treason for exercising their rights to peaceful protest protected under the Indonesian constitution and international law, Human Rights Watch said. The constitution, in article 28(e), states, “Every person shall have the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion.” Article 28(f) provides, “Every person shall have the right to communicate and obtain information for the development of his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep, process, and convey information by using all available channels.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2006, similarly protects the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly.

Human Rights Watch takes no position on claims to self-determination in Papua. Consistent with international law, however, Human Rights Watch supports the right of everyone, including independence supporters, to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal.

“Throwing activists in prison on charges of treason will just reinforce Papuans’ beliefs that the Indonesian government uses the law for political purposes,” Pearson said. “And while the government is busy prosecuting peaceful protesters, it seems to have had no time to investigate adequately the violence against them.”

To read the October 28, 2011 Human Rights Watch news release, “Indonesia: Independent Investigation Needed Into Papua Violence,” please visit:

To read Human Rights Watch’s report on political prisoners in Indonesia, please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Indonesia, please visit:


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