Daily Archives: March 17, 2012

AI Public Statement: Sentencing of Papuan activists a setback to free expression and assembly

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT16 March 2012
Index: ASA 21/011/2012

Indonesia: Sentencing of Papuan activists a setback to free expression and assembly

Indonesian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release five men who have today been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for taking part in a peaceful gathering in Papua province in October 2011. The court decision significantly erodes Indonesia’s respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Amnesty International

Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, August Sananay Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut, and Selpius Bobii were each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Jayapura District Court. They were arrested on 19 October 2011 for participating in the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a peaceful gathering held in Abepura, Papua from 17-19 October 2011 and charged with “rebellion” under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

Amnesty International considers all five men to be prisoners of conscience. They join over 90 political activists in the provinces of Papua and Maluku who have been imprisoned solely for their peaceful political activities.

The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are guaranteed in Article 19 and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party, as well as in other international instruments. Moreover, these rights are protected under Indonesia’s Constitution. While the Indonesian government has the duty and the right to maintain public order, it must ensure that any restrictions to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are no more than is permitted under international human rights law.

Amnesty International has also received credible reports about threats and intimidation against the five and one their lawyers during their trial. Amnesty International expressed its concern about these reports in a letter sent to the Indonesian authorities in March 2012, pointing out that these allegations, if true, undermine the credibility of the judicial process in Indonesia, and specifically in the Papua region.

Amnesty is also concerned about the authorities’ lack of progress in investigating allegations of human rights violations committed by the security forces on the final day of the Congress. On 19 October police units supported by the military surrounded the venue and fired shots into the air to break up the gathering. As participants began to flee, police units from the Jayapura City police station and the Papua regional police headquarters arbitrarily arrested an estimated 300 hundred people and allegedly kicked and beat some of them. Most were released the following day. Three people were later found dead at the scene and over 90 people were reportedly injured. A National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) investigation found evidence of human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces, including violations of the right to life, unnecessary and excessive use of force, and ill-treatment.

While 17 police officials subsequently received administrative sanctions for violating disciplinary procedures, these internal disciplinary hearings did not deal with the allegations of human rights violations that occurred.

Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the security forces during the Third Papuan People’s Congress. Should the allegations be verified, those responsible, including those with command responsibility, should be brought to justice in fair trials and the victims receive reparations.

Amnesty International takes no position whatsoever on the political status of any province of Indonesia, including calls for independence. However the organization believes that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate referendums, independence or any other political solutions that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Link: Link: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA21/011/2012/en


FORKORUS’ AND FOUR OTHERS’ SENTENCE VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Joint Press release from TAPOL, the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscans International, and the West Papua Netzwerk

FORKORUS’ AND FOUR OTHERS’ SENTENCE VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

16 March 2012 – The Jayapura state court today found five Papuan leaders guilty of treason, sentencing them each to three years imprisonment. TAPOL, the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscans International, and the West Papua Netzwerk seriously regret the verdict and question the fairness of the trial proceedings. The verdict is another example of the severe restrictions by the Indonesian authorities on the right to freedom of expression of the Papuans. We call upon Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order that all convictions which do not reflect international legal standards be overturned and the prisoners be immediately released.

Today’s verdict represents a setback in the relationship between Jakarta and Papua, suggesting that Indonesian authorities still see arrest and detention as the best ways to respond to expressions of Papuan aspirations. As a country widely applauded for its burgeoning democracy, Indonesia should be promoting peaceful political activity, not punishing it.

Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selpius Bobii, Dominikus Surabut and August Kraar were arrested in October 2011 for their roles in the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a peaceful gathering at which the leaders declared that Papua has been independent since 1961. As the gathering began to disperse, security forces fired shots into the crowd and carried out mass arrests and beatings. Three people were shot dead.

While the leaders of the Congress now face three years in jail for their peaceful actions, those responsible for the violent response to the Congress received a slap on the wrist, and investigations to determine who was responsible for the killings have led to neither justice nor accountability.

The five men were convicted of treason under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. While the treason laws are intended to prosecute serious crimes against the state, alleged members of the armed resistance are rarely if ever brought to trial in Papuan courts; they are beaten, tortured or shot. Article 106 is instead used to charge those engaged in peaceful actions such as raising the Papuan national ‘Morning Star’ flag or organising and attending public events at which Papua rights and aspirations are asserted.

The denial made by the Coordinating Minister for Law and Human Rights of any political prisoners this month shows a lack of commitment to uphold human rights norms that are applicable to Indonesia according to international law, including that the peaceful expression of political opinions cannot be persecuted.

There are serious doubts about the fairness of the trial proceedings. Armed members of the security forces maintained a heavy presence during the trial sessions, and one of the senior lawyers for the defence, Gustav Kawer, is being threatened with prosecution, in violation of his right under Indonesian law and international standards to carry out his professional duties in defending clients in court. There have also been questions about the independence of the judges, who were reportedly visited by senior military, police and government officials just one hour before the trial began.

According to TAPOL’s data, the five men will join at least 27 other Papuan political prisoners currently in jail for treason under article 106. All those detained for peaceful political activities should be immediately and unconditionally released.

ENDS

Contacts:

Paul Barber, TAPOL, +44 7747 301 739