Yusak Pakage: ‘I was arrested for being a former tapol.’

by OKTOVIANUS POGAU of SuaraPapua.com
5 December 2012Jayapura: ‘I was arrested because of my having once been held as a political prisoner (tapol),’ said Yusak Pakage, a Papuan activist. who said that the charge against him was a frame-up, alleging that he was dangerous just because he was carrying a knife.

He made this statement to suarapapua.com on 4 December, following a hearing at the Class 1A district court in Jayapura  He said that as soon as he was arrested on 27 July this year, he was taken to a police command post and questioned about his behaviour towards a court official, Sefnat Fonataba.

‘Soon after, Fonataba came to the police station and told the police there that there was no problem with me and apologised to me for what he had done.’  The policeman asked Pakage to write a statement  saying that there was no problem between him and the policeman which is what he did.

When he was about to sign the statement, the chief of police in Abepura came along and said that he had other instructions about how to handle this case.

‘Shortly afterwards, I was taken to the police station where I was interrogated for quite a long time about the knife. I said that it was a very cheap knife, the kind of knife that you can find in any traditional market in Jayapura. It is just something I carry about with me for my everyday needs. I didn’t buy it in order to do something criminal, as the security people seemed to think.’

‘ I have never  heard anything about needing a special permit to carry an ordinary knife.The law in Indonesia is very confusing and I don’t know about any rule governing the carrying of a knife.  The chief of police said that he didn’t know who I was and wanted the case to be handled in the usual way.’ But according to Pakage, the police officer knows very well who he is and that he had previously been held as a tapol. ‘He was lying,’ said Pakage.’He just wanted it to be known that I had formerly been held as a tapol, when I was arrested along with Filep Karma in 2004 for carrying the  Morning Star flag.’

‘I frequently make statements about the human rights situation in Papua and take a leading part in many demonstrations, so of course he knows very well who I am.’

Pakage also said that during his interrogation, all his personal belongings were taken away, even including his ballpoint, and none of these things  have been returned to him.

On 19 August, he was transferred to the prison in Abepura and he is now waiting for his case to be completed and to hear the verdict of the judge.

Pakage used this occasion to warn his activist friends to be very careful and keep control of their feelings when they are doing anything to struggle for the rights of the Papuan people.

‘I tell them not to get too emotional and to learn from my own experiences which show that I can be arrested for something very trivial.’

Siman Pattiradjawane, the lawyer who is defending Pakage told reporters that the verdict in the case will be announced on 11th December.

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