At the end of March 2015, there were at least 38 political prisoners in Papuan jails.
On 6 March, 17-year-old high school student and West Papua National Committee (Komisi Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) activist Deni Bahabol was kidnapped, tortured and murdered, and his body dumped in a river in Yahukimo regency. Early reports indicate the involvement of Special Forces Command (Komando Pasukan Khusus, Kopassus) officers in the murder. Bahabol’s murder echoes the Martinus Yohame case in August 2014. Yohame, who was also a KNPB activist and active in leading peaceful demonstrations, suffered a similar fate.
On 19 to 21 March, under the orders of Papua Police Chief Inspector General Yotje Mende, Papuan National Police and Mobile Brigade (Brigade Mobil, Brimob) officers were deployed from Jayapura to Yahukimo to forcibly disperse, shoot and arrest Papuans taking part in a peaceful campaign to collect donations for victims of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. At least 21 people were arrested and six people were shot. A 48-year-old village head, Obang Sengenil, died from gunshot injuries.
In another incident in Jayapura, four Papuan youths aged 14 to 23 were publically attacked by Brimob officers. One of them, Lesman Jigibalom, is believed to be in a critical condition as a result of torture.
The arbitrary nature of police action this month – from shooting people collecting donations in Yahukimo to torturing and beating four young men seemingly without reason in Jayapura – highlights the lawless and reckless manner of policing in Papua. This dynamic of imposing public torture, violence and arrest breeds a culture of fear and distrust amongst indigenous Papuans.
Despite demands for accountability from Papuan civil society groups into these cases of state violence, police have yet to launch investigations. The lack of political will to seek transparency and accountability in cases of state violence ensures that perpetrators continue to enjoy total impunity. Instead of addressing long-standing violations committed by the Indonesian military in Papua, the authorities have opted to ramp up militarisation by establishing new plans to build a Brimob command base in Wamena. Jakarta-based solidarity group PapuaItuKita issued a ten-point statement rejecting the new plan, stating that the increased presence of Brimob forces would only serve to further destabilise the area.
On 2 March, hundreds of armed security personnel forcibly dispersed a peaceful socialisation seminar and detained at least three people in Jayapura. The seminar, on the theme of “Reclaiming Papuan Identity in Melanesia”, was organised by the newly formed United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), which consists of different factions of the West Papuan pro-independence movement. In a statement to the Papuan press this month, Police Chief Yotje Mende called for the KNPB to be banned as it supports Papuan independence. This zero tolerance approach by security forces towards demonstrations and gatherings associated with Papuan independence, despite their peaceful nature, is a violation of the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly as guaranteed in the Indonesian Constitution.
Fundraisers for Cyclone Pam victims shot and arrested in Yahukimo; three arrested in Timika
Information received from various human rights and media sources reported that on 19 to 21 March at least 21 people were arrested and six people shot by Papuan National Police (Polda Papua) and Mobile Brigade (Brigade Mobil, Brimob) officers in Yahukimo regency for being involved in collecting donations for the victims of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. At least one person, Obang Sengenil, a 48-year-old village head, died from gunshot injuries. While reports indicate that most of those arrested have been released, it is unclear how many people remain in detention in Yahukimo regional police station.
The previous week, from 11 to 19 March, the Yahukimo group of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) had coordinated a donation drive involving community members and KNPB activists.
On 19 March, according to Majalah Selangkah, a prayer session was planned to take place at 15:00, as part of a closing ceremony of the week’s events. At 09:25, security forces composed of Papuan National Police and Brimob officers shot into the crowd that had gathered in preparation for the prayer session. Tabloid Jubi reported that Isai Dapla, a 37-year-old KNPB member, suffered gunshot injuries to the chest, while Salomon Pahabol, a 47-year-old primary school teacher, was shot in his left leg. Elias Kabak, a 40-year-old KNPB member, was arrested. Security forces reportedly confiscated items belonging to the KNPB organisers, including banners, megaphones, and a camera, as well as donations which had been collected.
In retaliation, a member of the crowd stole a firearm belonging to a Yahukimo police officer. According the Head of the Yahukimo People’s Local Parliament (Parlemen Rakyat Daerah, PRD), Aminus Balingga, as reported in Jubi, on 21 March the firearm was returned to the police by KNPB Yahukimo members. There were also reports of Indonesians from the non-Papuan community being attacked and suffering injuries during the commotion.
Media reports stated that at around 15:10 that afternoon, security forces shot a further four people and arrested 16 others. One of the four shot, Obang Sengenil, died of his injuries. Titus Giban, a 39-year-old primary school teacher, Simon Giban, a 42-year-old village head, and Inter Segenil, a 16-year-old high school student, suffered serious gunshot injuries. Local sources reported that 16 people were arrested, some of whom were KNPB members. There were unconfirmed reports that the 16 detainees may have been tortured on arrest and while in detention in Yahukimo Regional Police Station.
On 21 March, Yahukimo Regional Police and Brimob officers arrested four men – Yason Balingga, Yeniut Bahabol, Nefen Balingga, and an unnamed man. Local sources reported that police also conducted search operations in the surrounding area, and damaged and looted several homes. Reports stated that thousands of indigenous Papuans fled the violence and are hiding in the forests.
On 30 March, the Yahukimo Independent Student and Youth Forum (Forum Independen Mahasiswa dan Pemuda Kabupaten Yahukimo, FIMPY) held a demonstration involving students and the Yahukimo community, calling for the Papuan Provincial Parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah Papua, DPRP) to launch an investigation into the incident.
On 13 March, three people raising funds for Cyclone Pam victims were arrested in Timika. Else Rumrawer, Yuli Adokor and Yuliana Inggobou were detained in Mimika Regional Police Station. It is unclear whether they are currently still in detention.
Brimob officers tortured and severely beat four Papuan youths
Suara Papua reported that on 18 March four Papuan youths were attacked in Jayapura by 11 armed Brimob officers dressed in plain clothes. Media reports indicate that they were attacked seemingly without reason.
17-year-old Timotius Tabuni was stopped in front of Cigombong market in Kotaraja and forced to handover his motorcycle keys to Brimob officers. He was beaten with rifle butts and slashed with bayonet blades. As a result of the beatings, he suffered a deep gash on his head, slash wounds on his back, bruises on his face and knees, and also lost a front tooth. Two friends of Tabuni, 23-year-old Lesman Jigibalom and 17-year-old Eldy Kogoya were stopped in front of Kotaraja Mosque and threatened at gunpoint to walk in a squatting position. When they refused to do so, they were forced to lay down. Eldy Kogoya was dragged by the legs some distance away along an asphalt road. He suffered cracked ribs and bruises on his back and knees. Lesman Jigibalom was slashed with a bayonet blade and suffered a pierced lung and bruises all over his body. He underwent an operation the following day and is thought to be in a critical condition. 14-year-old Mies Tabo, who witnessed the incident and attempted to call for help, was kicked and beaten by the Brimob officers.
Papuan civil society members from KontraS Papua (Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan Papua) and Speak for Truth (Bicara Untuk Kebenaran, BUK) rejected statements from Brimob Deputy Head of Unit, Assistant Police Commissioner Tono Budiarto, that Brimob officers had instead saved the four youths from a mob attack. Human rights defender Peneas Lokbere of BUK stated that testimonies from the victims, their families and eyewitnesses show clearly that the perpetrators were Brimob officers. KontraS Papua lawyer Olga Hamadi stated that the perpetrators should be brought to justice. Jayapura police have yet to launch an investigation into the incident.
Three men detained for participating in ULMWP seminar
On 2 March, Benu Rumbiak, Simeon Alua and Yes Wenda were arrested during a police raid of a seminar in Jayapura. Hundreds of armed security personnel disrupted and forcibly dispersed a peaceful socialisation seminar held by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). Police also confiscated seminar material. Academics, church leaders, Papuan Provincial Parliament (DPRP) and Papuan People Assembly (Majelis Rakyat Papua, MRP) representatives had been invited to speak at the seminar on the theme of “Reclaiming Papuan Identity in Melanesia”. It is unclear whether the three men are currently still in detention. Ones Suhuniap, the General-Secretary of the KNPB, criticised the police actions as a violation of the rights to free expression and assembly as enshrined in the Indonesian Constitution.
There were no releases reported in March 2015.
Political trials and cases overview
Pisugi detainees sentenced to one-year imprisonment
On 1 April, the five detainees in the Pisugi Election Boycott case were each given a one-year prison sentence. Prosecutors had previously called for a five-year prison sentence each for Yosep Siep, Ibrahim Marian, Marsel (alias Marthen) Marian, Yance (alias Yali) Walilo and Yosasam Serabut (alias Jhoni Marian). The five men were charged with conspiracy to endanger security under Articles 187 and 164 of the Indonesian Criminal Code under accusations of making Molotov cocktails in attempts to boycott the Presidential Elections in July 2014.
During the court hearings in Wamena in March, Ibrahim Marian, Marthen Marian, Yance Walilo and Yosasam Serabut testified that they had been forced to confess to the charges under torture. Yosep Siep, who was not considered well enough to stand trial due to the lack of psychological treatment available in Wamena, has returned to his home village in Pisugi district.
Court hearings revealed that on 11 July 2014, the night of their arrest, they had gathered at the home of Yosep Siep to take part in a prayer session and had then spent the night there. The detainees testified that at around 04:00 security forces arrived at their village and arrested them. On arrest, their hands were tied behind their backs, they were chained together by the neck, and dragged along the ground.
Yosasam Serabut aka Jhoni Marian testified that during his interrogation he was repeatedly beaten and electrocuted by police officers. He stated that he confessed to the charges as he was afraid that police would shoot and kill him. When questioned on his ability to read and write, Jhoni Marian stated that he was illiterate. He went on to say that police investigators had not read out the Police Investigation Report (Berita Acara Pemeriksaan, BAP) to him after his interrogation and that he was forced to give his thumbprints to verify the results of his interrogation. Furthermore, appeals by the defence lawyers to provide a translator for Jhoni Marian, who struggles to speak and understand Indonesian, went unheeded by the court.
Marthen Marian testified that a Police Brigadier named Endy tortured him in detention. He was forced to remove his clothing and his arm was slashed with a machete. He stated that he was also stabbed and beaten with arrows until they were broken. He added that other officers took turns in entering the interrogation room and beating him with weapons and knuckleduster gloves.
Ibrahim Marian testified that Police Brigadier Alex Sianturi interrogated him in detention. Ibrahim stated that he was beaten with knuckleduster gloves which resulted in broken teeth. He said that police investigators also crushed his fingers by placing them under chair legs after which officers would take turns to sit on the chair. He was also beaten on the head with hammers. He was told that he would be killed if he did not admit to the charges against him.
Yance Walilo testified that Police Brigadier Yeskel F.M. had interrogated him in detention. He stated that he was beaten with wooden beams and rifle butts in a locked detention room. His legs were also stamped on by police officers.
During court hearings in March, Police Brigadiers Endy, Alex Sianturi and Yeskel F.M. denied that they tortured or ill-treated the five detainees.
The four detainees also stated that they rejected the Police Investigation Reports filed against them and denied making Molotov bombs and boycotting the Presidential Election last July. Defence lawyers argued that the confessions extracted under torture could not be used as evidence against the detainees and that such practice contradicted the right of the detainee to testify without pressure in any form, as stated in Article 117 of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code. They also argued that the evidence presented in court differed from the evidence described in the Letter of Indictment (Surat Dakwaan), and concluded that evidence used against the detainees had been fabricated.
Cases of Concern
KNPB Yahukimo activist murdered and dumped in river
A report from a local human rights source revealed that on 6 March, 17-year-old high school student and KNPB activist Deni Bahabol was murdered and his body dumped in a river in Yahukimo regency. Information received showed that two days earlier, on 4 March, Bahabol had led a peaceful KNPB march in support of a campaign tour of South Africa by Benny Wenda, leader of the Free West Papua Campaign.
It is believed that Bahabol was attacked by Kopassus forces while he was on his way to the KNPB Secretariat in Yahukimo. He is reported to have been tortured and beaten with stones. His body was dumped in the Brazza river and was found by fishermen in Patipi village in neighbouring Asmat regency four days later. He was buried by his family in Yahukimo on the same day. As at the end of March 2015, police have not conducted any investigations into the incident.
KNPB Merauke Secretariat searched following bomb scare; Papuan police chief calls for KNPB ban
On 5 March, the KNPB Merauke Secretariat was searched by military and Merauke Regional Police officers following a bomb scare which the KNPB believes had been orchestrated by the police.
At around 18:00, a KNPB member found a suspicious looking box at the gates of the Secretariat which was then reported to the police. Security forces who arrived at the scene entered the Secretariat, damaging equipment and confiscating flags, banners and documents. The KNPB asserts that the Police had orchestrated the bomb scare as an excuse to raid the Secretariat offices.
On 24 March, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Yotje Mende stated that the KNPB should be banned as it is a pro-independence organisation. KNPB spokesman Bazoko Logo told Jubi that Mende’s statement was in reaction to police failure to take responsibility for the shootings and arrests in Yahukimo earlier in the month (see Arrests).
University students commemorate Bloody Abepura; Head of Jayapura Regional Police warns against pro-independence demonstrations
On 16 March, Cenderawasih University (Universitas Cenderawasih, UNCEN) students held a peaceful commemorative gathering at their campus in Kota Jayapura remembrance of the victims of Bloody Abepura. Nine years ago, on 16 March 2006, violence erupted between demonstrators and security forces during a demonstration calling for the closure of the Freeport McMoran mine in Timika. The violence resulted in the deaths of five security officers. Dozens of demonstrators were hospitalised and 24 people were tortured in detention.
During the commemorative event, the Head of Jayapura Regional Police, Kiki Kurnia, told student demonstrators that any demonstrations related Papuan independence would not be tolerated. He stated that pro-independence demonstrations would be forcibly dispersed and that participants would be arrested and detained.
Elsham study: Women and children severely impacted by military violence and impunity
On 15 March, a public discussion on military impunity and violence and its impact on women and children was held by Papuan civil society groups in Jayapura. Research by Elsham Papua (Lembaga Studi dan Advokasi Hak Asasi Manusia, Institute of Human Rights Studies and Advocacy) reported that women and children were severely impacted by military violence in Papua. Violence against women was not only recorded in instances of domestic violence, but also in cases of rape, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and murder inflicted by military forces. Elsham data collected from 2012 to 2014 revealed 389 cases of military violence resulting in 234 deaths, 854 people injured, and 880 arrests.
PapuaItuKita calls for rejection of new Brimob base in Wamena
On 31 March, Jakarta-based West Papua solidarity group PapuaItuKita demonstrated outside the Presidential Palace in the capital city against the building of a new Brimob (Brigade Mobil, Mobile Brigade) command base in Wamena. PapuaItuKita stated that increased militarisation only serves to increase violence, terrorisation and impunity in Papua. It added that the indigenous community in Papua is against the plans and that the Government can no longer adopt a militaristic stance to solve issues in Papua. Alius Asso, a youth leader from Wamena, told Majalah Selangkah that instead of increased militarisation, the Government should focus on the economy, health, education, and dealing with HIV/AIDS in Papua.
March 2015 Papuan Political Prisoners
|No||Prisoner||Arrested||Charges||Sentence||Case||Accused of violence?||Concerns reported re legal process?||Prison / Place of detention|
|1||Areki Wanimbo||6 Agustus 2014||Pasal 106 and 110||On trial||French journalists arrests in Wamena||Uncertain||Yes||Wamena|
|2||Yosep Siep||9 Juli 2014||Pasal 187, 164||1 year||Pisugi Election Boycott||Yes||Yes||Wamena|
|3||Ibrahim Marian||9 Juli 2014||Pasal 187, 164||1 year||Pisugi Election Boycott||Yes||Yes||Wamena|
|4||Marsel Marian||9 Juli 2014||Pasal 187, 164||1 year||Pisugi Election Boycott||Yes||Yes||Wamena|
|5||Yance Walilo||9 Juli 2014||Pasal187, 164||1 year||Pisugi Election Boycott||Yes||Yes||Wamena|
|6||Yosasam Serabut||9 Juli 2014||Pasal 187, 164||1 year||Pisugi Election Boycott||Yes||Yes||Wamena|
|7||Alapia Yalak||4 Juni 2014||Tidak diketahui||Police investigation pending||Yahukimo arrests||Yes||Yes||Papua Police Headquarters|
|8||Lendeng Omu||21 Mei 2014||Tidak diketahui||Police investigation pending||Yahukimo arrests||Uncertain||Yes||Yahukimo Regional police station|
|9||Jemi Yermias Kapanai||1 Februari 2014||Pasal 106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|10||Septinus Wonawoai||1 February 2014||Pasal 106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|11||Rudi Otis Barangkea||1 Februari 2014||Pasal 106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|12||Kornelius Woniana||1 Februari 2014||Pasal 106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|13||Peneas Reri||1 Februari 2014||Pasal 106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|14||Salmon Windesi||1 Februari 2014||Pasal106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|15||Obeth Kayoi||1 Februari 2014||Pasal 106, 108, 110 and UU Darurat 12/1951||3.5 years||Sasawa military raid arrests||Yes||Yes||Sorong|
|16||Soleman Fonataba||17 Desember 2013||106, 110)1, 53, 55||On trial||Sarmi 2013 Morning Star flag arrests||No / not yet clear||No||On bail, cannot leave Sarmi|
|17||Edison Werimon||13 Desember 2013||106, 110)1, 53, 55||On trial||Sarmi 2013 Morning Star flag arrests||No / not yet clear||No||On bail, cannot leave Sarmi|
|18||Piethein Manggaprouw||19 Oktober 2013||106, 110||2 years||Third Papuan Congress demo in Biak||No||Yes||Biak|
|19||Oktovianus Warnares||1 Mei 2013||106, 110, UU Darurat 12/1951||7 years||Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration||Yes||Yes||Biak|
|20||Yoseph Arwakon||1 Mei 2013||106, 110, UU Darurat 12/1951||2 years and 6 months||Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration||Yes||Yes||Biak|
|21||Markus Sawias||1 Mei 2013||106, 110, UU Darurat 12/1951||2 years||Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration||Yes||Yes||Biak|
|22||George Syors Simyapen||1 Mei 2013||106, 110, UU Darurat 12/1951||4.5 years||Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration||Yes||Yes||Biak|
|23||Jantje Wamaer||1 Mei 2013||106, 110, UU Darurat 12/1951||2 years and 6 months||Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration||Yes||Yes||Biak|
|24||Isak Klaibin||30 April2013||106, 107, 108, 110, 160 and 164||3 years and 6 months||Aimas 1 May commemoration||No||Yes||Sorong|
|25||Isak Demetouw (alias Alex Makabori)||3 Maret 2013||110; Pasal 2, UU Darurat 12/1951||2 years 2 months||Sarmi treason||No||Yes||Abepura|
|26||Niko Sasomar||3 Maret 2013||110; Pasal 2, UU Darurat 12/1951||2 years 2 months||Sarmi treason||No||Yes||Abepura|
|27||Sileman Teno||3 Maret 2013||110; Pasal 2, UU Darurat 12/1951||2 years 2 months||Sarmi treason||No||Yes||Abepura|
|28||Jefri Wandikbo||7 Juni 2012||340, 56, UU 8/1981||8 years||KNPB activist tortured in Jayapura||Yes||Yes||Abepura|
|29||Darius Kogoya||1 Mei 2012||106||3 years||1 May demo and flag-raising||No||No||Abepura|
|30||Wiki Meaga||20 November 2010||106||8 years||Yalengga flag-raising||No||Yes||Wamena|
|31||Meki Elosak||20 November 2010||106||8 years||Yalengga flag-raising||No||Yes||Wamena|
|32||Filep Karma||1 Desember 2004||106||15 years||Abepura flag-raising 2004||No||Yes||Abepura|
|33||Yusanur Wenda||30 April 2004||106||17 years||Wunin arrests||Yes||No||Wamena|
|34||Linus Hiel Hiluka||27 Mei 2003||106||19 years and 10 months||Wamena ammunition store raid||Yes||Yes||Nabire|
|35||Kimanus Wenda||12 April 2003||106||19 years and 10 months||Wamena ammunition store raid||Yes||Yes||Nabire|
|36||Jefrai Murib||12 April 2003||106||Life||Wamena ammunition store raid||Yes||Yes||Abepura|
|37||Numbungga Telenggen||11 April 2003||106||Life||Wamena ammunition store raid||Yes||Yes||Biak|
|38||Apotnalogolik Lokobal||10 April 2003||106||20 years||Wamena ammunition store raid||Yes||Yes||Biak|