Baptist leader calls for unconditional release of Forkorus

Bintang Papua
11 December 2012
The Indonesian government has been urged to free all political prisoners in Papua, including Forkorus Yaboisembut and Filep Karma. On the occasion of World Human Rights Day,  the human rights defender Socrates Sofyan Yoman spoke about the activities throughout 2012 of organisations such Polri (the police force), the TNI (the Indonesian military) and vicious armed civilian groups. He said 90  incidents of violence had been committed by these groups in all parts of Papua during the year so far.’As we celebrate Human Rights Day,’ he said, ‘we defenders  of human rights urge the Indonesian government to take the following actions:

‘Firstly, in accordance with its constitutional responsibility to safeguard its citizens, the government should acknowledge that the way it treats prisoners, convicts and the citizens in general is brutal, inhumane and demeaning. This includes the way it treats Papuan civil society and Papuan political prisoners. Such activities  should be prohibited, along with all practices that violate the law. Torture must be clearly identified  and criminalised. This would be seen as a concrete sign of Indonesia’s commitment to the International Covnention Against Torture which it officially ratified  by enactment of Law 5/1998

Secondly, the government should agree to adopt a policy that recognises Papuan citizens as victims. In those cases where legal processes have been resorted to, rehabilitation not imprisonment should be the method  chosen. The government should also adopt measures to  inform the general public about the many civilian victims in Papua.

His next point was to ensure that whenever the law on treason is used in a court of law, this should be non-discriminatory and concrete action should be taken to put an end to all criminal activities by the security forces, including judges, public prosecutors and all those people who are in charge of the prisons.

Furthermore,  the rights of all Papuan political prisoners must be safeguarded, including ending all illegal detentions. In cases where confessions were made under duress and without the presence of legal counsel, they should not be accepted as evidence in a court.of law.

The government should create mechanisms for people to be able to initiate charges. Such mechanisms should be available everywhere and in all places of detention and imprisonment.And in cases where charges are brought by detainees, this must be followed through by independent investigations by law-enforcement institutions as well as the National Human Rights Commission.

His next point  was to urge the National Human Rights Commision, the National Commission to End Violence Against Women and the Ombudsman  of the Indonesian Republic, to establish a mechanism  for a fully independent National Protection Unit to visit all places of detention, especially places of detention where persons charged with treason (/makar/) or other political prisoners  are being held as part of the state’s responsibility to act in accordance with the Anti-Violence Optional Convention.

The seventh point was to press the Indonesian government to enter in peaceful dialogue on the problem of Papua, mediated by a third party, one of the aims of which would to end torture and other forms of violence throughout the Land of Papua.

The eighth point was to press the Indonesian government to invite  the UN Special Rapporteur against Torture and Arbitrary Detentions to visit Papua.

The ninth point was to press the Indonesian government  to allow foreign journalists to visit Papua.

The tenth point was that the Indonesian government should accept responsibility for incidents of gross violations of human rights such as the incident in Abepura on 7 December 2000, the Wasior 2001 incident, the Wamena  2003 inicident and other incidents that have already been investigated by the  National Human Rights Commission, and to ensure that  the results of these investigations  are considered at the human rights court and dealt with in accordance with the principles of justice.

With regard to the role of the churches in Papua, it should be acknowledged that their main mission  has been paralysed by the state and governmental system in Indonesia.

Moreover, its prophetic voice is hardly ever heard in Papua, particularly since Papua was integrated into the Indonesian republic by military means and this the integration was preceded by the bloody events surrounding the Act of Free Choice, which continue to the present day.

‘The churches have forgotten or refused to recognise that Christianity arrived in Papua three centuries ago, on 5 February 1855.’

These thoughts were expressed by Socrates Sofyan Yoman during his opening address of the Congress of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Papua at the Baptist Church in Wamena in October 2012.

He pointed out that his church  has supported the Papuan people with education, religious belief, healthcare and in the economic sphere, and has helped to improve access to the most remote areas by establishing small airfields which cater for small aircraft, with alll the risks this involves.

The church’s  missionaries live in close proximity with the Papuan people and help to foster the dignity of the Papuan people.in sharp contrast to what Indonesia has done since Papua’s integration, when it became a colonial power, a fact that is rarely criticised by the churches.

As a church leader, Yoman said that he not only studies the Bible but also learns from the history of Papua.  He has learned a great deal from this history, in particular the many untruths that have been told.  It is the role of the churches to insist on correcting these untruths, he said

Until now the churches talk about  ‘peace and well being’ but God’s people are continually  stigmatised as treasonous and accused of being part of the OPM.

As a church leader, he rejects all these allegations  and believes that Christians  must reflect of God’s will, as is stated in Genesis 1:26.  For all these reasons, he said in conclusion:

‘I will continue to speak out and will do everything I possibly can to share in the sufferings of God’s people. There is no future for Papua if it continue to remain a part of Indonesia. Papuans cannot live normal lives The churches must speak out about this and integrate themselves with those people whose very identity has been destroyed. It must speak out about  justice, equality  and the freedom  of all humankind regardless of race, ethnicity, culture or religion.

[Translated by TAPOL]

 

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