Tag Archives: buchtar tabuni

Interview With Bucthar Tabuni, Chairman of the West Papua National Parliament

(Apologies for the delay in posting due to significant funding shortfall and time over-commitments from WPM team)

(Translated by WPM Team for SuaraPapua.com)

Original article at SuaraPapua.com, March 23, 2013

Chairman of the West Papua National Parliament, Bucthar Tabuni, and Chairman of the West Papua National Committee, Victor F Yeimo (Photo: Private)

PAPUA, Jayapura – recently,  suarapapua.com journalist Oktovianus Pogau, had the opportunity to interview with Bucthar Tabuni, the Chairman of the West Papua National Parliament (,).  In this interview Tabuni speaks about the criminalization of peaceful struggle of West Papua National Committee (KNPB), by the Police force in Papua.

Follow the interview below.

 What is the security forces attitude towards KNPB?

I see that the security force fears even more if KNPB exist in the Land of Papua. This is because of the mass and the base of KNPB is firmly rooted.  Indeed, during my leadership, the strength that we have built with the people is serious. So, at this time the security forces were escorting us to matters that did not enter our minds, and tried to destroy the struggle for peace that was pushed by us.

I hope this does not become an obstacle for KNPB to further progress and develop into the
 future.  If there’s any issue, then it should be coordinated with PNWP as the political body of the Papuan people. And we are ready to be responsible to the people, as well as to the 
KNPB board itself.

How’s the leadership of the new chief of Police (Kapolda), Tito Karnavian?

For Kapolda Papua at present, I think we just stay in an intensive communication, however 
my only regret is related to imprisonment of KNPB activists in Wamena Jayapura, Biak and Timika, that is being dragged on without a clear legal process.

I officially conveyed to the Chief of Police, I will still guarantee security throughout Papua when orders (are made) to release political prisoners, abolish the lists of wanted-persons 
(DPOs) of KNPB activists, and open a space for democracy, but also demands that have not been

I hope, all of these (demands) can be fulfilled soon. If it has not been answered, I
 will make a mention of the demands to the public and the police chief, but I’m (still) 
waiting for a response to the demands.

What was Kapolda’s Response?

His response was good, but not optimal. For example, legal issues with some KNPB members being detained should be settled with the Police, but his officers eventually put (a formal) submission to the Attorney General, 
so the legal process at court is protracted, and we are very disappointed for now.

The Papua issue needs communication. If it’s ignored, it will cause
 disappointment, and the violence will never disappear. If there is to be anything at all, then it should be 
communicated. Pak Kapolda responded well, but not optimal. And until now I’m still waiting.

KNPB accused of masterminding violence in Papua?

Officials still have a biased stigma towards the KNPB, starting from being considered as actors of
 violence, all the way to being the perpetrators of violence in Papua. I argue that, during my leadership, the peaceful campaign of the struggle by peaceful demonstrations have always 
been promoted.

KNPB are people’s media, so it would be inappropriate if we called masterminds of violence.  
KNPB also never ordered the people of Papua, nor a member of KNPB 
throughout Papua, to struggle with violent means.

Even if there is (violence), that cannot be generalised or all associated together. In the society, there are good people, some are evil, there are few that listen to advice, and some that are not willing to hear the advice, and it’s a normal thing, and it happens everywhere, including 
in KNPB today.

Although Kapolda asked us not to do violence, one needs to know that 
lots of those acts are carried out by TPN/OPM (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional or National Liberation Army).  And this is outside of civil society, but if its in town I would 
guarantee safety. I do not have the right to intervene on TPN/OPM actions.
  My civic leadership is in the town.  TPN/OPM field of operation is different from my field.

What is the condition of KNPB activists detained in Wamena, Timika and other places?

They all regret, because the legal process that is underway has not been proven 
as a legal case. If they obtain or store sharp tools, then almost everyone 
in Papua, including immigrants, also obtain (these tools) such as knives and other sharp instruments.

The cases of KNPB members in Wamena is seen (to be premeditated) that the authorities already have 
strategies to arrest them. Why do officers go check sharp instruments only at
 KNPB activists home, while many immigrants who also own and store those things 
that are mentioned?

The question is, those things are there, but what are they used for, who is harmed, how many victims? –  there are no legal facts. This is why I asked that Kapolda must release 
them, but he hasn’t reacted to my demands.

The detainees until now regret, because without fair (or truthful) evidence and legal facts, they still undergo jail terms.  A question from me, why didn’t the police force arrest knife-sellers or sharp instruments in the market?  Of course this is weird.

How’s the assistance from Counsel (legal assistance)?

I thank the council for their assistance in assisting the KNPB activists in various prisons in Papua, but there is no assistance given to the case that happened in Wamena.

I see that the counsel hesitates in giving their assistance; we are able to facilitate with fund and provide them with accommodation. However, it is acceptable if they are busy. I plead for the judge and the prosecutor to work in conjunction together and help me with all the decisions to hopefully free all of them.

According to the charges that were made, there are many political aspects in comparison with those of law. Hence, various approaches have to be done in order to silence the struggle of West Papuans, and that include punishing detainees. Police and Army forces (Polri & TNI) will always find gaps and use that to perform ongoing injustices to the struggle in Papua. Therefore, an exceptional consideration is needed.

KNPB is regarded as Highlanders?

I’m shocked when I heard that statement. KNPB originates from Papua and we have Regional Parliaments called Parlemen Rakyat Daerah (PRD) in Biak, Manokwari, Wamena and Merauke, and they are all representative of West Papua.

I believe that this opinion is from people that don’t understand what consolidation is. I can also say that that opinion comes from people that don’t do field work but just voicing their thoughts. We have been working together (around Papua) for six years.

Don’t look just at KNPB, but the important thing is to see the agenda we have been working on. Supposing that the agenda makes sense and  is rational, why don’t we gain the support from others? We are just normal human beings but if this agenda can grant West Papua an Independence, it has to be supported, especially by those who mock KNPB.

Message for KNPB Activists?

Suppose you are keeping sharp weapons in your homes, it’s wise to throw them away or to avoid or keep away from them. Let alone the outsiders to have them. It has been several days since the silence of KNPB, it doesn’t mean that KNPB withdraws and is scared of the coloniser.

The current situation is uncertain so that we choose to be silent and to be patient. Let’s stay calm and plan for our new strategy to rise again. Do not worry about the tactics sets by the enemy, we have to think and plan for other approaches.

Message for the People of West Papua?

Independence is not something that we can achieve in an instant. West Papuans, don’t get bored, don’t be lazy and don’t give up the fight. There is no struggle that does not bear an outcome, everything does. We just have to wait for right time.

Hence, I call out to every West Papuan to work together, to be committed in what we are doing to keep up the fight in order for West Papuan to be free from Indonesian Colonialism. By doing so, not only we keep the fighting spirit alive but we also honour all the sacrifices of the late Arnold Ap, Thomas Wainggai, Kelly Kwalik, Mako Tabuni, Victor Kogoya, Hubertus Mabel, and all West Papua Independence activists that were killed by the Indonesian Military.

(translated and edited by WPM)

Buchtar Tabuni released from Abepura prison after completing sentence

Buchtar Tabuni
Buchtar Tabuni Free Political Prisoner Campaign art (artwork: AK Rockefeller)

by West Papua Media

January 19, 2013


Buchtar Tabuni, the Chairman of the pro-independence National Parliament of West Papua, was released unexpectedly from Abepura prison around 12pm West Papua time today, to a waiting group of about fifty of his supporters from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), according to multiple sources.

KNPB News reported that Tabuni sent an SMS message early this morning from prison. “To all the Free Papua fighters in Numbay, Sentani and its vicinity, at 9 this morning please pickup (at) Abepura LP”,  Buchtar’s message read.

Buchtar Tabuni upon his release from Abepura prison (19/3) (photo: Melinda Ayomi/Kompasiana)
Buchtar Tabuni being escorted (19/3) on long march from Abepura prison to Mako Tabuni’s site of execution in Waena (photo: Melinda Ayomi/Kompasiana)

Local sources today reported to West Papua Media that about fifty KNPB members then escorted a relieved Tabuni from Abepura prison on a long march to the assassination site of his friend and KNPB colleague, former KNPB Chairman Mako Tabuni.  Mako Tabuni was gunned down in broad daylight in a political assassination carried out by Australian-funded and trained Detachment 88 counter-terror officers outside the Perumnas 3 Dormitories in Waena on June 14, 2012, one week after Buchtar’s arrest.  He was also due to be taken to the graveside of Mako Tabuni in order to pay his respects to his slain friend, colleague and clansman.

Tabuni was arrested on 6 June 2012 during an upsurge in mysterious “OTK”  (orang Terlatih Khusus or “specially trained persons”) shootings, and publicly linked by then Papua Police Chief Bigman Tobing to the shootings.  However, according to statements by Tabuni’s lawyer during his criminal trial in September, the entire case was “nothing more than a set up.”

Lawyer Gustaf Kawer said at the time, “Buchtar had been linked to the shooting of Miron Wetipo but that case has already been solved, so it was clear that the authorities were trying to make a scapegoat of Buchtar.”

Tabuni was in custody when more shootings occurred, so “Buchtar was not in any way connected with those shootings. So instead of being charged with the shootings,” said Kawer during Tabuni’s trial, “he now faces the charge  of inflicting damage on the Abepura Prison in 2010, which means that he should have been arrested in 2010.”

In a highly opaque trial closed to independent witnesses, and marked by significant intimidation of journalists by police and court officials, Tabuni was convicted on a charge “for having allegedly inflicted damage on the Abepura prison in December 2011,” and “for exchanging harsh words with prison warders.”

In recent months, Tabuni’s health had suffered from his incarceration in Abepura prison, with complaints of respiratory illness, gastric diseases and dangerously low blood pressure, from his incarceration in atrocious and unhygienic conditions by Indonesian colonial prison authorities.

According to credible sources, Tabuni is spending the next days with family, friends and colleagues from KNPB to mourn the losses of his comrades, and to discuss and consider the next steps in the campaign for justice in West Papua.


West Papua Advocacy Team Urges Unrestricted Visit by UN Special Rapporteur


For immediate release

Contact: Ed McWilliams
+1- 575-648-2078

January 13, 2013 – The West Papua Advocacy Team is deeply concerned about the Government of Indonesia’s unilateral decision to restrict the planned visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression Frank La Rue.

The government invited La Rue to visit Indonesia last May during the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of human rights in Indonesia. Indonesia came under pressure during that meeting because of its poor record of protecting human rights, notably in West Papua.

The West Papua Advocacy Team strongly urges the Government of Indonesia to lift any restrictions that would prevent the Special Rapporteur from meeting with political prisoners in Jayapura and in Ambon.

The government’s proposed restrictions would preclude La Rue from visiting West Papuan and other political prisoners held in Jayapura and elsewhere. These political prisoners are incarcerated for their peaceful political dissent. For many years the Indonesian government has sought to limit freedom of expression by West Papuans, often by smearing dissenters as separatists and disingenuously claiming that these dissenters are tied to the Papuan armed opposition.

According to reliable sources, the UN Special Rapporteur, who is scheduled to arrive in Indonesia on January 14, plans to postpone his visit unless he is allowed to visit prisoners in both Jayapura and Ambon.

The Indonesian government also wants to prevent La Rue from visiting political prisoners held in Ambon in the Moluccas. Moluccan political prisoners, like Papuan political prisoners, have been incarcerated because of their peaceful dissent. The government proposed would limit him to meetings with officials in Jakarta and with a religious cleric imprisoned in Sampang.

Human rights groups estimate that there are up to 100 political prisoners in Indonesia, mainly Papuans and Moluccans, including 15 Papuans imprisoned under charges of treason.

The West Papua Advocacy Team strongly urges the Government of Indonesia to lift any restrictions that would prevent the Special Rapporteur from meeting with political prisoners in Jayapura and in Ambon. The Indonesian government is accountable to the international community to respect rights of political prisoners under terms of numerous international conventions to which it is party. A visit by the Special Rapporteur is an important means by which to ensure Indonesian compliance with its international obligations.

The West Papua Advocacy team encourages the Special Rapporteur to postpone his visit until such time as he is able to set his own agenda for the visit, including meetings with political prisoners in Jayapura and Ambon.

The West Papua Advocacy Team is a U.S.-based NGO composed of academics, human rights defenders and a retired U.S. diplomat.

see also

Journalists face difficulties when trying to report about the trial of Buchtar Tabuni

25 September 2012[Photo at the top of the report shows several of the police on guard, all of whom are heavily armed.]

The police who guarded the courthouse during the trial of Buchtar Tabuni made it difficult for some of the journalists wanting to cover the case to gain access to the court.

Benny Mawel of JUBI said: ‘I showed my press card but the police  insisted that I open my bag and take everything in it out for them to examine’ He said that access to the court had been made difficult.

Journalists were interrogated and the police demanded to see the contents of their cases. ‘This happened not only to me but to other journalists,’ said Benny Mawel, ‘even though we had clearly displayed our press cards.’

This did not happen during the earlier hearings of the trial.

A journalist  from Papua Pos Daily, Rudolf,  also said he had been heavily investigated. His bag had also been searched. He said that before entering the court, he hung his press cord round his neck but even so, the police examined the contents of his bag.

While on the one hand regretting the  measures taken against journalists by the police, Viktor Mambor, chairman of the Jayapura branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI. said he hoped that journalists would understand what the police were doing.

”They certainly acted excessively and this should not be necessary this if journalists have clearly shown their press cards. But at the same time,’ he said,  ‘I could understand what they were doing because during an earlier discussion I had with the chief of police, there was concern about the fact that the credentials of some of the journalists were suspect because of recent indications about the involvement of certain pressmen in the recent violent conflict  in Papua.’

He went on to say that some time around July this year, a journalist had been interrogated by the police because he had reported that the Morning Star Flag had been flown on some occasions. In Papua, such reports only complicate matters because it stigmatises people, thereby legitimising excessive measures taken by the security forces. As Papuans, we have to understand this,’ he said.

Translated by TAPOL]

Buchtar Tabuni sentenced to eight months; tight security round the courthouse.



Bintang Papua
24 September 2012
The former chairman of the KNPB – National Committee for West Papua – was sentenced to eight months in prison, having been charged with inflicting damage on the prison where he was held. The sentence was  less than the demand of the prosecutor who wanted the accused to be sentenced to one year. The eight month sentence will be reduced by the time the accused has already spent behind bars.Aggravating circumstances were that he had previously  been sentenced and that his actions caused anxiety among the people, while the mitigating factor was that he had behaved politely in court.

Following the announcement of the verdict, the defence team said that they had not yet decided whether to launch an appeal against the sentence. ‘We are still thinking about how we will respond,’ said Gustav Kawar.

The defence team said that the sentence was light and the accused should have been released. However, according to Gustav Kawar. the panel of judges had  given him a sentence as the result of external interference.

Bintang Papua, 25 September 2012

After further consideration, the defence team said that the verdict had not been decided independently and had been seriously influenced by the authorities, Gustav Kawar told  journalists. This influence had come from the security forces, that is to say the army and the police This was the factor that had caused the judges to hesitate before reaching their verdict. There were also doubts because of the fact that the testimony from several of the witnesses was contradictory. Nor had it been proven that the accused had been acting  in consort with others.

According to Gustav Kawar, the Criminal Procedural Code (KUHP) stipulates that  if  any element in the charge has been proven to be invalid, the entire charge must be declared invalid. The accused as well as his defence team said that they would consider what to do in the coming seven days.

Security measures round  the court

On the day the verdict was announced, around 230 security forces from the local and district forces, including personnel  from the police intelligence unit, Brimob  were among those standing guard.

The chief of police said that several  elements of the security forces had taken part in security at the time of the various hearings.  He asserted that  they had discovered sharp weapons among the crowd of people outside the courthouse following the earlier hearings but after measures had been taken, this did not occur during the latter hearings.

[Translated by TAPOL]