Activists threatened with twenty years jail for organising a nonviolent march about media freedom in West Papua

by Alex Rayfield

28 September 2012

Two West Papuan activists currently in police detention in Yapen Island in West Papua are being threatened with twenty years jail by the Indonesian police for organising a nonviolent march in support of the United Nations International Day of Indigenous People which this year celebrated the role of indigenous media.

Edison Kendi (37 years) and Yan Piet Maniamboy (35 years) from the pro-independence group West Papua National Authority were arrested by Indonesian police on 9August 2012.

The activists were leading a march of approximately 350 people in support of the International Day for Indigenous People. Police used force to break up the march. According to witnesses they beat up several Papuans and repeatedly discharged their weapons into the air. Sixteen people were arrested at the scene and a laptop, hard disk, modem, digital camera, documents and three Morning Star flags were later seized by police.

Banner at freedom of expression rally rejecting Indonesian rule in Papua on the International Day for Indigenous People. Photo via Alex Rayfield from West Papua Media stringers in Yapen.

Those arrested were subsequently released except for Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboy who remained in police custody. A local stringer told West Papua Media and New Matilda that Indonesian police investigators Sudjadi Waluyo and Arip Marinto have charged the two men with rebellion (makar) under section 155 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. Both defendants have been told that the police will seek jail sentences of 20 years each.

The controversial charge of makar has come under intense criticism from Papuan lawyers Yan Christian Warinusy from the Legal Aid Institute in Manokwari and Gustaf Kawer and Olga Hamadi from the Commission for the Disappeared (Kontras Papua). The lawyer argues that the charge of makar has been used as a tool of political repression to deny nonviolent activists their right to free speech. The law actually dates back to Dutch times and was used extensively by the former dictator to repress dissent in Indonesia. Suharto was overthrown by a nonviolent student movement in May 1998 but the law has remained on the statute books. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also called for the makar provisions to be struck from the criminal code and all political pisoners in Papua to be released.

The WPNA march was organised to commemorate the International Day of Indigenous Peoples. Ironically the United Nations theme for this year was to celebrate indigenous media. Yapen is extremely isolated. International media is banned in West Papua and local media is censored. So the very fact that story got out in the first place is testimony to the growing power and skill of indigenous media activists in West Papua.

Kendi and Maniamboy told New Matilda and West Papua Media by text message from their jail cell that they want the international community to help them. “We don’t want Autonomy or to remain with Indonesia. We want to be free! Don’t continue to let us be killed and thrown in jails” they said. WPNA media activist and Governor of Jayapura (under WPNA’s parallel political structure), Marthen Manggaprouw said his organisation wants the Indonesian government to negotiate with the independence movement to resolve the conflict. “The basic rights of indigenous Papuans are not respected in West Papua. There is no democratic space for us Papuans. We are criminalised simply for expressing our opinion” said Manggaprouw.

The men number amongst some 100 West Papuan political prisoners currently languishing in Indonesian jails. Although the Indonesian constitution technically guarantees freedom of speech in reality basic rights are routinely denied to the indigenous Papuan population. Papuans calling for genuine political freedoms are vigorously repressed by Indonesian police and military.

This is the original article to one which appeared in New Matilda

Papuan Prisoner of Conscience Filep Karma in Jakarta for Medical Treatment

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Press Release – Karma family

Papuan Prisoner of Conscience Filep Karma in Jakarta

for Medical Treatment

Jakarta, Indonesia [27 September 2012].

Filep Karma, a political prisoner of conscience from Papua, has attended a two-week medical treatment in Jakarta hospital and now is back in the Abepura prison in West Papua. He arrived in Jakarta on September 14 and took a colonoscopy treatment in PGI Cikini hospital, Jakarta.

Indonesian physicians in Jayapura, who earlier examined Karma with simple equipment, suspected that he has a colon tumor. As it is not possible to conduct a colonoscopy in West Papua the physicians referred him to the hospital in Jakarta.

Karma was imprisoned in 2004 and is serving 15 years in prison for participating in a peaceful independence demonstration and for raising the Morning Star flag, an important Papuan symbol of independence.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared him a political prisoner in September 2011, asking the Indonesian government to immediately and unconditionally release Karma. The government, however, denies the existence of “political prisoners” in Indonesia. His injuries were sustained from acts of torture inflicted on him while in prison. He also injured his hip during a falling in 2006.

It took nearly six months for Karma to be able to be transferred to Jakarta despite this referral. Abepura prison officials, under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, have refused to cover cost of his medical treatment and travel. The Indonesian government’s refusal to cover his costs is in direct contravention of national and international law.

According to United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Principle 24), and Indonesian law (Regulation No. 32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners’ Rights in Prisons) it is required that all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital be borne by the State.

Despite the Abepura prison authorities recently giving permission for Karma to travel to Jakarta, they still refuse to cover the cost of his medical treatment and travel. Funds have been raised through donations from the Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund (London), Rev. Socratez Yoman’s church service (Timika), STT Walter Post (Jayapura) and many individuals.

Not only Karma, there are seven political prisoners in Papua with variety of illness. They are Apotnagolik Lokobal (stroke); Ferdinand Pakage (stroke); Forkorus Yaboisembut (impaired vision); Kanius Murib (memory loss); Kimanus Wenda (hernia);  Jefrai Murib (stroke);  and Yusak Pakage (indigestion).  Karma urges the Indonesia government should release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and give them the proper medical treatment.

(Note from Andreas Harsono/ HRW: Note: Filep Karma finished his medication on Tuesday and returned to Jayapura Wednesday night. He has arrived safe and sound in Jayapura Thursday morning. But he’s back to his Abepura prison. A number of family members, assistants and friends helped his hospitalization in Jakarta.  I am sending you some photos from his medical treatment in Jakarta as well as the airport departure in Jakarta. His sister Margaretha, daughter Audryne (and her boy friend), assistants Cyntia Warwe and Soleman travelled with him back to Jayapura.

 

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The Coverage of Gunfire in Nabire is Public Deception

Tabloid Jubi

September 25, 2012

by Victor Mambor

Jayapura, (25/9) The coverage about gunfire between police and armed civilian groups in Urumusu, Nabire Regency on Monday (24/9) that was reported by national and local media, has been described as ‘public deception’ by human rights activists in Nabire. A resident called Kristian Belau/Zonggona, named by police, was shot in the gunfire.

This allegation of public deception was asserted by the Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church Bureau of Justice and Peace in a chronological report of events received by tabloidjubi.com , on Tuesday (25/9). The Bureau of Justice and Peace of the Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church, which undertook an investigation into this incident says that this was actually a case of police shooting the victim, Kristian Belau/Zonggonau, because of road-blocking elated activity on the Interior Trans-Nabire road, not because of gunfire between police and armed civilian groups.

From the chronolgy collected by the Bureau of Justice and Peace, on Tuesday 25 September 2012, at approximately 6:00am CDT, a group of Moni Youth were road-blocking on the roadside of the Interior Trans-Nabire Road next to the Wadio Atas Elementary School, Gerbang Sadu Villiage, in the West Nabire District of Nabire Regency. Unfortunately, when these young people stopped an Inova type car that was heading inbound and requested money from the passengers, it turned out there was a police officer in the car. The police officer then fired into the air three times, which made all the Moni youth run to safe themselves. But three other Moni youth used a motor bike to travel to the rubbish dump in Wadio Atas and continued their road-blocking actions. The police officer that fired the shots directly reported to Nabire Police District Command (Polres) that there were people carrying out road-blocking in Wadio Atas.

Kristian Belau lying down awaiting the operation to remove the bullet

After morning assembly, police from Nabire District Command took one track heading towards Wadio Atas and checked a spot that is often blocked. Upon arriving at the rubbish dump in Wadio Atas, Gerbang Sadu Villiage, Nabire West District, police met with the three Moni Youth. When the police attempted to arrest the three, two escaped. However, one of them, Kristian Belau/Zonggonau, instead advanced towards police. At the time, Kristian Belau/Zonggonau is suspected of being drunk because all night he was drinking heavily. When he advanced towards the police officers, he was shot in the right thigh. Kristian was then lifted to the police patrol car to be taken to the Siriwini Hospital Emergency Room, Nabire. Currently, the victim is in custody at Nabire Police District Command for questioning. According to several citizens in around Gerbang Sadu villiage, road-blocking on the Interior Trans-Nabire Road happens every night. It has been occurring for quite a while. Although police have repeatedly arrested road-blockers, there still are those who road-block. Usually every vehicle that travels inbound is billed according to the type of vehicle. Taxis are billed RP 50,000, private vehicles are billed RP 50,000 and trucks are billed RP 100,000. This issue makes the police angry, to the point that they carried out the shooting of Kristian Belau/Zonggonau.

In the reporting that followed, police said they could not avoid exchanging fire with armed civilian groups in the mentioned location. ‘Because a member was shot, in the end returning fire could not be avoided, one person of the armed group was named Kristian Belau/Zonggonau was shot in his left thigh. Other members of the armed group successfully escaped into the forest whist continually firing at police with revolvers and SS1 type guns’, explained Lieutenant Colonel Gede Sumerta to tabloidjubi.com (25/9),

Based on the investigation carried out, given to tabliodjubi.com the Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church Bureau of Justice and Peace disputes the police explanation. According to them, statements of gunfire between police and armed civilian groups that use revolver and SSQ type weapons is information that has been distributed by irresponsible parties and constitutes public deception. ‘Gunfire between police and armed civilian groups that use revolver and SSQ type weapons is an announcement that is irresponsible and public deception’, said Yones Douw, an activist from Nabire Kingmi Klasis Church Bureau of Justice and Peace to tabloidjubi.com (25/9).

‘Because the Urumusu location is far from the Interior Trans-Nabire road, entering Topo District, Nabire West Regency, a distance from the incident of approximately 45 kilometres. This morning, our human rights activists met with Kristian’s elder sibling and the Moni community in Wadio Atas. They said their children (the three youths who were road-blocking) do not own weapons. If they get drunk and road-block, it’s possible’, continued Yones Douw. (Jubli/Victor Mambor).

a policeman with his weapon guards Kristian Belau

Kristian Belau awaiting operation

right thigh hit by bullet

Journalists face difficulties when trying to report about the trial of Buchtar Tabuni

JUBI
25 September 2012[Photo at the top of the report shows several of the police on guard, all of whom are heavily armed.]

The police who guarded the courthouse during the trial of Buchtar Tabuni made it difficult for some of the journalists wanting to cover the case to gain access to the court.

Benny Mawel of JUBI said: ‘I showed my press card but the police  insisted that I open my bag and take everything in it out for them to examine’ He said that access to the court had been made difficult.

Journalists were interrogated and the police demanded to see the contents of their cases. ‘This happened not only to me but to other journalists,’ said Benny Mawel, ‘even though we had clearly displayed our press cards.’

This did not happen during the earlier hearings of the trial.

A journalist  from Papua Pos Daily, Rudolf,  also said he had been heavily investigated. His bag had also been searched. He said that before entering the court, he hung his press cord round his neck but even so, the police examined the contents of his bag.

While on the one hand regretting the  measures taken against journalists by the police, Viktor Mambor, chairman of the Jayapura branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI. said he hoped that journalists would understand what the police were doing.

”They certainly acted excessively and this should not be necessary this if journalists have clearly shown their press cards. But at the same time,’ he said,  ‘I could understand what they were doing because during an earlier discussion I had with the chief of police, there was concern about the fact that the credentials of some of the journalists were suspect because of recent indications about the involvement of certain pressmen in the recent violent conflict  in Papua.’

He went on to say that some time around July this year, a journalist had been interrogated by the police because he had reported that the Morning Star Flag had been flown on some occasions. In Papua, such reports only complicate matters because it stigmatises people, thereby legitimising excessive measures taken by the security forces. As Papuans, we have to understand this,’ he said.

Translated by TAPOL]

IHRC Media Release: Indonesia Human Rights Committee applauds NZ Superannuation Fund decision to divest from Freeport McMoran on ethical grounds

PRESS RELEASE
Indonesia Human Rights Committee,

 26 September 2012

IHRC is delighted that the NZ Superannuation Fund has decided to pull its investments from the Freeport McMoran mining giant. (NZ Superannuation Fund Media Release 26 September, 2012. )

‘We have been campaigning for the Superannuation Fund and other Crown Financial Institutes to divest from Freeport for six years and we know the news will be welcomed the West Papuan people who have been campaigning about the mine’s impact on their communities for decades.’

‘The Norwegian Pension Fund divested from Freeport several years ago on environmental grounds, but the NZ Superannuation Fund has stated that the breaches of human rights by the security forces were the critical factor in their decision making. So this is an advance.’

‘We intend to call to the Super Fund Offices in Auckland on Friday to make a personal acknowledgement of this important step.’

Freeport has been directly or indirectly responsible for gross human rights abuses in West Papua since it was first granted a highly favourable contract to exploit gold and copper in the days of the Suharto dictatorship.  These abuses include torture, illegal detentions, and killings.   These days the area close to mine is no-go area and an area where the Indonesian security forces rule the roost.   Shooting deaths are regular occurrence on the access road and last October police killed a miner and injured several others who were carrying out a lawful strike.

According to Rev Socrates Yoman a leading human rights advocate Freeport is like an ATM for the security forces – when there is conflict they can be sure of money.

The mine has destroyed a mountain considered sacred by the indigenous Amungme people and displaced thousands, destroying their forest-based subsistence lifestyle in the process.  Local people live below the poverty line- only Jakarta and the mining magnates get the wealth from the enormously profitable mining enterprise.

Freeport uses a system for disposing of the mine waste tailings in the river system -outlawed almost everywhere else in the world.   Over 200, 000 tonnes of waste a day are deposited in the river leading to the creation of vast dead zone where nothing grows.

For further information; Maire Leadbeater; 09-815-9000 or 0274-436-957

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