Tag Archives: Congress

Groups Urge U.S. Not to Sell Attack Helicopters to Indonesia

AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Press Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391, john@etan.org
Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078, edmcw@msn.com

March 30, 2012 – Ninety organizations today urged the U.S. government and Congress not to provide deadly attack helicopters to Indonesia. Indonesia has announced that it plans to buy eight AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the United States.

The groups warned that the helicopters will escalate conflicts in Indonesia, especially in the rebellious region of West Papua: “Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians.”

The Indonesian military (TNI) regularly conducts “sweep operations,” involving attacks on villages where innocent villagers are forced from their homes. The groups write that “Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.” Sweep operations are now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua.

The letter was organized by the U.S.-based East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team and signed by human rights, religious, indigenous rights, disarmament and other organizations based in 14 countries.

Signers include: Faith-based Network on West Papua, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Peace Action, International Lawyers for West Papua, Land Is Life, KontrS (Indonesia), and Pax Christi Australia. A complete list of signers can be found here: http://www.etan.org/news/2012/03helicop.htm

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns and equipped to fire missiles.

ETAN was formed in 1991. It celebrated its 20th anniversary this December 10, advocates for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. See ETAN’s web site: http://www.etan.org

Text of Letter

As organizations concerned about human rights in Indonesia and West Papua, we are writing to urge the U.S. government and Congress not to allow the sale of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the Indonesian military (TNI). Providing these helicopters would pose a direct threat to Papuan civilians, who have been the target of deadly TNI assaults for many years.

The sale of this weapons system to the TNI — notwithstanding its long record of disregard for civilian casualties, corruption, human rights violations and impunity in East Timor, Aceh and elsewhere — would only increase the suffering of the Papuan population.

Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin told the Antara news agency, that  Indonesia intends to buy eight AH-64 Apache helicopter from the United States.

The heavily-armed AH-64 is a highly lethal weapon which can be used to escalate conflict within Indonesia and in West Papua. These aircraft will substantially augment the TNI’s capacity to prosecute its “sweep operations” in West Papua and thereby, almost certainly lead to increased suffering among the  civilian populations long victimized by such operations.

TNI “sweep operations,” including several now underway in the Central Highlands region of West Papua, involve attacks on villages. Homes are destroyed, along with churches and public buildings. These assaults, purportedly to eliminate the poorly armed Papuan armed resistance, force innocent villagers from their homes. Papuan civilians either flee the attacks to neighboring villages or into the surrounding forests where many die or face starvation, cut off from access to their gardens, shelter, and medical care.

The AH-64 is designed for air to ground attack. It can operate day or night and is armed with high caliber chain guns . It is also equipped to fire missiles.

Congress must be notified of major weapons sales. We urge Congress to oppose the sale of these helicopters.


Appeal against Papuan Congress treason convictions launched

From West Papua Media sources in Jayapura
EXCLUSIVE
March 19, 2012
After an Indonesian court on March 16 sentenced  five Congress leaders guilty of Makar (treason) three years in prison each, lawyers for the men have today launched a formal appeal against the sentences in the Jayapura Class 1a district court.
The five defendants, Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selfius Bobii, Dominikus Sorabut, and Agus Kraar, were leaders and organisers of the Third Papuan People’s Congress held on October 19 2011, which was brutally broken up by Indonesian security forces after Forkorus  – the Chairman of the Papuan Tribal Council elected as President of the Federated Republic of West Papua – unilaterally reaffirmed West Papua’s independence from Indonesia.
An SMS just sent to West Papua Media from the legal team defending the five men said “promptly at 15:00 (West Papua time), our team of legal advisors has stated appeals in Class IA Jayapura District Court in connection with the Makar case on behalf Forkorus, et al, against 3 year prison sentence imposed by the judges of  (the)  Court, for being convicted of a crime of attempted treason”.
The SMS stated that the crimes the men were convicted under “also referred to in Article 106 of the Criminal Code,  Article 55 paragraph (1) of the  Criminal Code, together with Article 53 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, (we have lodged) a statement of appeal of the verdict of Class IA Jayapura District Court”
“This judgement does not have the force of law, then the case must be reviewed by the Jayapura High Court Judge,” according to the SMS.
“The reason we (have) appealed the decision of the Court of Jayapura (is because it is) essentially inconsistent with the facts of the trial, both from witnesses, evidence and the testimony of the defendant,” the legal team said.  “Also it is not in agreement with the Book of the Law of Criminal Procedure.”
The date that the appeal is set down to be heard is not known at the time of publication, as the lodged appeal had yet to be processed by the court.
westpapuamedia

AI Public Statement: Sentencing of Papuan activists a setback to free expression and assembly

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PUBLIC STATEMENT16 March 2012
Index: ASA 21/011/2012

Indonesia: Sentencing of Papuan activists a setback to free expression and assembly

Indonesian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release five men who have today been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for taking part in a peaceful gathering in Papua province in October 2011. The court decision significantly erodes Indonesia’s respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Amnesty International

Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, August Sananay Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut, and Selpius Bobii were each sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Jayapura District Court. They were arrested on 19 October 2011 for participating in the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a peaceful gathering held in Abepura, Papua from 17-19 October 2011 and charged with “rebellion” under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

Amnesty International considers all five men to be prisoners of conscience. They join over 90 political activists in the provinces of Papua and Maluku who have been imprisoned solely for their peaceful political activities.

The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are guaranteed in Article 19 and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party, as well as in other international instruments. Moreover, these rights are protected under Indonesia’s Constitution. While the Indonesian government has the duty and the right to maintain public order, it must ensure that any restrictions to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are no more than is permitted under international human rights law.

Amnesty International has also received credible reports about threats and intimidation against the five and one their lawyers during their trial. Amnesty International expressed its concern about these reports in a letter sent to the Indonesian authorities in March 2012, pointing out that these allegations, if true, undermine the credibility of the judicial process in Indonesia, and specifically in the Papua region.

Amnesty is also concerned about the authorities’ lack of progress in investigating allegations of human rights violations committed by the security forces on the final day of the Congress. On 19 October police units supported by the military surrounded the venue and fired shots into the air to break up the gathering. As participants began to flee, police units from the Jayapura City police station and the Papua regional police headquarters arbitrarily arrested an estimated 300 hundred people and allegedly kicked and beat some of them. Most were released the following day. Three people were later found dead at the scene and over 90 people were reportedly injured. A National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) investigation found evidence of human rights violations by the Indonesian security forces, including violations of the right to life, unnecessary and excessive use of force, and ill-treatment.

While 17 police officials subsequently received administrative sanctions for violating disciplinary procedures, these internal disciplinary hearings did not deal with the allegations of human rights violations that occurred.

Amnesty International calls on the Indonesian authorities to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the security forces during the Third Papuan People’s Congress. Should the allegations be verified, those responsible, including those with command responsibility, should be brought to justice in fair trials and the victims receive reparations.

Amnesty International takes no position whatsoever on the political status of any province of Indonesia, including calls for independence. However the organization believes that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate referendums, independence or any other political solutions that do not involve incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Link: Link: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA21/011/2012/en


FORKORUS’ AND FOUR OTHERS’ SENTENCE VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

Joint Press release from TAPOL, the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscans International, and the West Papua Netzwerk

FORKORUS’ AND FOUR OTHERS’ SENTENCE VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

16 March 2012 – The Jayapura state court today found five Papuan leaders guilty of treason, sentencing them each to three years imprisonment. TAPOL, the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Faith-Based Network on West Papua, Franciscans International, and the West Papua Netzwerk seriously regret the verdict and question the fairness of the trial proceedings. The verdict is another example of the severe restrictions by the Indonesian authorities on the right to freedom of expression of the Papuans. We call upon Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to order that all convictions which do not reflect international legal standards be overturned and the prisoners be immediately released.

Today’s verdict represents a setback in the relationship between Jakarta and Papua, suggesting that Indonesian authorities still see arrest and detention as the best ways to respond to expressions of Papuan aspirations. As a country widely applauded for its burgeoning democracy, Indonesia should be promoting peaceful political activity, not punishing it.

Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selpius Bobii, Dominikus Surabut and August Kraar were arrested in October 2011 for their roles in the Third Papuan People’s Congress, a peaceful gathering at which the leaders declared that Papua has been independent since 1961. As the gathering began to disperse, security forces fired shots into the crowd and carried out mass arrests and beatings. Three people were shot dead.

While the leaders of the Congress now face three years in jail for their peaceful actions, those responsible for the violent response to the Congress received a slap on the wrist, and investigations to determine who was responsible for the killings have led to neither justice nor accountability.

The five men were convicted of treason under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. While the treason laws are intended to prosecute serious crimes against the state, alleged members of the armed resistance are rarely if ever brought to trial in Papuan courts; they are beaten, tortured or shot. Article 106 is instead used to charge those engaged in peaceful actions such as raising the Papuan national ‘Morning Star’ flag or organising and attending public events at which Papua rights and aspirations are asserted.

The denial made by the Coordinating Minister for Law and Human Rights of any political prisoners this month shows a lack of commitment to uphold human rights norms that are applicable to Indonesia according to international law, including that the peaceful expression of political opinions cannot be persecuted.

There are serious doubts about the fairness of the trial proceedings. Armed members of the security forces maintained a heavy presence during the trial sessions, and one of the senior lawyers for the defence, Gustav Kawer, is being threatened with prosecution, in violation of his right under Indonesian law and international standards to carry out his professional duties in defending clients in court. There have also been questions about the independence of the judges, who were reportedly visited by senior military, police and government officials just one hour before the trial began.

According to TAPOL’s data, the five men will join at least 27 other Papuan political prisoners currently in jail for treason under article 106. All those detained for peaceful political activities should be immediately and unconditionally released.

ENDS

Contacts:

Paul Barber, TAPOL, +44 7747 301 739

Recovering the State of West Papua, Sentenced to Three Years in Jail

Recovering the State of West Papua, Sentenced to Three Years in Jail

by John Pakage for West Papua Media

Op-Ed

Forkorus Yoboisembut, Edison Gladius Waromi, Agustinus M. Sananay Kraar,
Selpius Bobii and Dominikus Sorabut were sentenced to three years in prison, Friday (16/3). They were charged with founding the independent state of West Papua.

However according to the accused, the Third Papuan Congress simply affirmed the Papuan independence that was in place before Indonesia entered Papua.

“The Congress merely renewed the independence of Papua that was previously in place before Indonesia came to Papua” stated Forkorus to Cermin Papua in Jayapura (16/3).

Therefore, according to Forkorus, it is Indonesia that should be accused of subversion, given how it used military force to enter Papua.

The public knows that the Third Congress took place with official Indonesian government permit, from both Jakarta and regional police, authorizing the holding of the Congress in Jayapura.

Even though this official permit was granted, Indonesian police and military still attacked and captured Congress participants that were present at the time, without first issuing any warrant as required by the law.

Before the conviction and sentencing, the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua) asked the government to liberate the five accused in accordance with the UN’s Human Rights regulation of 2007 which affirms the right to self-determination of indigenous nations, including the West Papuan nation.

Representing the accused, attorney Gustaf Kawer stated that since the Third Congress until today, Papua has yet to exit Indonesia, such that the Congress must be considered as an expression of the democratic right to free speech.

“Until now Papua is still part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia; therefore though the accused are convicted of subversion, these accusations are unfounded” said Kawer.

Reacting to the three year prison sentencing, the accused rejected the decision and stated their intention to continue to seek justice.

CP/ John Pakage