Comment by Yan Christian Warinussy, senior lawyer in West Papua, recipient of the John Humphreys Freedom Award, 2005
December 13, 2013
The latest treason verdict against seven West Papuans is yet another example of the serious human rights situation in West Papuan, in particular with regard to the right to freedom of expression. The seven men were headed by Isak Kalaiban.
Based on the facts revealed during the course of the trial, it is clear that there was a plan between the accused to freely give expression to their views in a way that is based on the rule of law.
This occurred on 1 May 2013 after Isak and his colleagues brought the families of the accused together on the previous day at their home in Aimas-Sorong. While they were meeting together, a police patrol in Sorong began to opened fire at the group of people, as a result of which four people were killed or wounded.
At the trial, the men were charged with treason (makar) by the court in Sorong before a panel of judges headed by Maria Magdalena Sitanggung.
None of the witnesses questioned at the trial said anything about what had taken place on the day before, 30 April.
For the legal team defending the accused, the question is who indeed is it that perpetrated treason in view of the fact that none of the witnesses who appeared in the trial knew anything about the men who were being charged.
This is yet another case in which the accused were charged under Articles 106, 108 and 110 to prevent people in Sorong from giving free expression to their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly as provided for by Law 39/1999 on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo