Tag Archives: freedom of speech

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


Open Letter to President of Indonesia on Papuan Political Prisoners

*c/o PO Box 21873
Brooklyn, NY 11202 USA
*etan@etan.org

August 16, 2010

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President
Republic of Indonesia
Istana Merdeka
Jakarta Pusat 10110 Indonesia
Via Fax, E-mail

Dear President Yudhoyono:

As Indonesia’s National Day on 17 August approaches, we the undersigned non-governmental organizations engaged in the defense of human rights in Indonesia are deeply concerned that dozens of Papuans are incarcerated in prisons in Papua and West Papua simply for having been involved in non-violent demonstrations or expressions of opinion.

In most cases, these prisoners have been sentenced under Criminal Code Articles 106 and 110 regarding “rebellion.” These articles are a legacy from the Dutch colonial era and are in violation of the Indonesian Constitution, Articles 28(e) and 28(f) which respectively afford “the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion,” and “the right to communicate and obtain information for the development of his/her personal life and his/her social environment, and shall have the right to seek, acquire, possess, keep, process and convey information by using all available channels.”

Moreover, Articles 106 and 110 are inconsistent with your country’s
international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) which Indonesia ratified in 2006. While the
ICCPR (article 19) notes that these rights are subject to certain
restrictions “for the protection of national security and of public
order or public health or morals,” the 1995 Johannesburg Principles on
National Security, Freedom of Expression, and Access to Information
identify clear standards for application of national security
restrictions. These Principles provide that persons should not be
restrained for expressing their opinions. Governments should only take
action against such expression of views on the grounds of national
security if they can demonstrate that they would incite acts of imminent violence. The prosecution of the aforementioned Papuan political prisoners has offered no evidence of any such threat of imminent violence in association with their physical or verbal actions.

While we strongly believe that none of these prisoners should have been prosecuted in the first place, we are also deeply concerned about the disproportionately harsh sentences imposed on these political prisoners given their non-violent acts. One prisoner arrested in 2004 and charged under these articles is serving a 15-year sentence while others have been given sentences of three or four years. Moreover, there have been alarming reports of maltreatment of the prisoners by prison warders and the lack of essential medical facilities. In one case, a prisoner with a serious prostate disorder had to wait eight months before being allowed to travel to Jakarta for essential treatment recommended by the local doctor. Severe Beatings of prisoners and detainees are frequently and credibly reported.

We the undersigned have on a number of occasions welcomed the democratic progress in Indonesian since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, inspired by the Indonesian people. We recognize that this progress had been achieved despite frequent threats by the as yet unreformed Indonesian security forces.

In view of the tradition to mark Indonesia’s National Day on 17 August
by announcing the release of prisoners and bearing in mind the
restriction on essential freedoms such as those contained in Articles
106 and 110 of the Criminal Code we respectfully call on you to mark
this year’s celebrations by:

* releasing all Papuan political prisoners, including those already
convicted and those waiting trial;

* securing the deletion of Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code;

* ordering an immediate investigation into conditions in the prisons
where the prisoners are being held and ensure the punishment of all
prison personnel held responsible for maltreatment.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Aliansi Nasional Timor Leste Ba Tribunal Internasional (ANTI)/
Timor-Leste National Alliance for an International Tribunal
Australia West Papua Association Adelaide
Australia West Papua Association Brisbane
Australia West Papua Association Melbourne
Australia West Papua Association Newcastle
Australia West Papua Association Sydney
East Timor and Indonesia /Action/ Network (ETAN) (U.S.)
Foundation Akar (The Netherlands)
Foundation Manusia Papua (The Netherlands)
Foundation of Papuan Women (The Netherlands)
Foundation Pro Papua (The Netherlands)
Free West Papua Campaign UK
Freunde der Naturvölker e.V./FdN (fPcN) (Germany)
Human Rights Watch
KontraS (Indonesia)
Land is Life (U.S.)
La?o Hamutuk (Timor-Leste)
Perkumpulan HAK (HAK Association) (Timor Leste)
Tapol (Britain)
West Papua Advocacy Team (U.S.)
West Papua Network Germany

Journalist murdered in West Papua, spreading fear amongst Papuan media.

Sources: FOKER LSM and Kompas
Ardiansyah Matra’is, a journalist working for Merauke TV, was found dead near the Gudang Arang river in Merauke, Papua, on Friday morning. Ardiansyah had been reported missing for two days.

He worked as a stringer for TV station Anteve and as a reporter for Papua’s Rajawali daily before joining Merauke TV.

Jojo, the chief editor of Rajawali daily, told news portal Kompas.com that journalists in Papua have been receiving death threats through text messaging over the past week.

“The SMS messages said that journalists in Papua would be killed and there would be no action from the police and the military. Several journalists had lodged a report with the Merauke Police about the death threats [they received],” Jojo said.

One text message reads: “To cowardly journalists, never play with fire if you don’t want to be burned. If you still want to make a living on this land, don’t do weird things. We have data on all of you and be prepared for death.”

Statement from FOKER LSM
Slightly abridged by Pro Papua

We are saddened to inform you that Adriansyah Matrais a member of Foker (Forum Kerja Lembaga Sosial Masyarakat, NGO working forum) has died under suspicious circumstances.

Adriansyah worked as a journalist for the Foker bi-weekly tabloid JUBI (Jujur Bicara, Honest Talk) and Merauke TV. He was initially declared missing in Merauke Regency, Papua Province on 28 July when his motorbike and helmet were found on a bridge near the River Maro. On 30 June the naked and handcuffed body of Adriansyah was discovered in the Gudang Arang River.

In an attempt to reduce the level of threats and improve the personal security situation of Adriansyah, people advised Adriansyah to cease his investigations in Jayapura Regency, Papua Province and return to his home in Merauke Regency, Papua Province.

During the period of increased intimidation, Adriansyah had been investigating financial irregularities in funding for improvements in Mandala Stadium (Jayapura Regency, Papua Province), in the plans to build a bridge over Yotefa Bay as part of a ring road for Jayapura (Jayapura Regency, Papua Province) and in the provision of electricity to Enggros Island (Jayapura Regency, Papua Province), as well as following up on unresolved human rights cases in Papua and investigating illegal logging in Keerom District, Papua Province.

In the week before the disappearance Adriansyah had become increasingly paranoid about his personal movements, according to his wife.