Yapen treason trial accused testify of torture in custody

from West Papua Media, with local sources

April 15, 2013

Defence witnesses have revealed the extensive and systemic use of casual torture and inhumane treatment by Indonesian police, whilst testifying at the Makar (treason) trial of two West Papuan peaceful political activists in Yapen District Court, Serui, on April 9.

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Yan Piet Maniamboi (defendant seated on Left) during cross-examination by Matius Matulesi, SH

The activists had been threatened with twenty years jail for organising a nonviolent march about media freedom in West Papua. The two men, Edison Kendi (38) and Yan Piet Maniamboi (36) were arrested for their involvement in organising peaceful demonstrations in Yapen on May 1, and August 9, 2012 for World Day of Indigenous Peoples,  and have been held in atrocious conditions in Serui prison and have been subjected to routine and regular torture since their arrest.

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.

The treason trial has been beset by procedural mistakes and the failure to appear of several police officers as prosecution witnesses.  Edison Kendi is the National Federated Republic of West Papua’s Governor of Saireri region.

According to independent observers present at the April 9 hearing, the four defence witnesses testified that they were beaten and tortured during detention and interrogation by Yapen police, and were forced to provide false information to stop the torture.  The presiding judge suspended the trial for five minutes to talk with witnesses as the BAP (Case Records) were in danger of being revoked by the judge, legally inadmissible as they were based on testimony extracted under torture.

One of the witnesses, named John, answered Prosecutor Matius Matulesi’s questions on the validity of the Case Records version of testimony, the prosecutor disagreed with John and called him “Swanggi” (Devil or Ghost).   Matulesi also began to threaten both the witnesses and defendants with hoax charges for testifying about their mistreatment.  Matulesi, a Christian native of Maluku, is known as a hard-liner and being “very inhumane in demanding punishment to the fullest extent on  native Papuans in Serui, according to human rights observers at the trial.

Edison Kendi had previously testified about the brutality inflicted on him and Maniamboi whilst being held at Yapen police station, and then after their transfer to Serui  prison on December 9, 2012 .  Kendi wrote in statement provided to observers:

“Since we were arrested we were tortured, kicked, pierced with wood, hit with wood, so we suffered extraordinary bruises and swellings, but (we were) never treated (for injuries) during our detention at the Yapen police station. Police did not allow us to be treated, for the  reason we are OPM (Free Papua Movement).”

Failure to provide medical attention for injuries whilst in custody is a grave human rights violation in and of itself, under the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and also the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – obviously in addition to the torture suffered by the defendants.

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Defendants Yan Piet Maniamboi (fourth from left) and Edison Kendi (5th from right), with family, supporters and legal counsel, in court before the hearing. (photo: West Papua Media stringers / NFRPB)

Matius Matulesi has also come in for heavy criticism over his violations of basic prisoner rights to medical treatment in this case, for injuries sustained by the defendants whilst under torture by Yapen police.  According to Edison Kendi, “On December 19, 2012 I submitted an application to the clinic in the Prisons for medical treatment, but I was not allowed to go out (to the hospital) by the Attorney on behalf of Matius Matulesi, SH –  so we just keep quiet and bore the pain. I’ve been treated at the clinic LP / prisons but with no improvement. I was sick when swelling on both my legs because of torture when captured and examined at the police Yapen station. I have repeatedly applied for treatment outside of LP / prisons but it’s all just all in vain since the detention December 6, 2012 – January 21, 2013 is not permitted by the prosecutor Mathius Matulesi, SH”.

Matulesi also allegedly prevented Kendi from attending the funeral of his father, allowing him only two minutes with his father’s body before being taken back to prison, despite other Indonesian prisoners, including prisoners convicted of violent terrorism offences, routinely granted this basic right.

The trial was adjourned for the prosecutor to present two investigators from the police station at the next session to be confronted with the witnesses’ testimony.

West Papua Media

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