Today the Civil Society Coalition for the Upholding of Law and Human Rights in the Land of Papua, working together with a number of human rights NGOs in Jakarta and internationally will formally launch the Papuans Behind Bars website www.papuansbehindbars.org, or in Indonesian, ‘Orang Papua Dibalik Jeruji.’ The website is intended to support advocacy for the rights of the political prisoners who are currently languishing in jails across Papua. Based on the data collected by the Civil Society Coalition for the Upholding of Law and Human Rights in the Land of Papua, at the end of March 2013 there were at least 40 political detainees being held in Papuan jails.This website shows the existence of political prisoners today and the history of Papuan political prisoners who have been subjected to torture, denied access to lawyers, forced to confess and suffered all manner of other human rights violations. The existence of political prisoners cannot be denied despite statements to the contrary by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto., that those in custody in Papua are criminals who are undergoing rehabilitation. The website will also provide updates on the situation in the prisons.
It’s important to respect the rights of detainees in police detention when they are being detained or interrogated on suspicion of treason, as well as those who are serving sentences having been found guilty of treason. This is because there have been a number of stories of human rights violations such as torture which begin from the moment of arrest and interrogation and continue while people are serving sentences.
Despite the fact that Indonesia has already ratified the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights via Law 12/2005 and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment via Law 5/1998, treason cases tried in the Papua state courts continue to be tried under politically-motivated charges of Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code and Emergency Law 12/1951. Treason suspects and convicts are treated like any other criminals such as thieves and rapists. So it’s unsurprising that with the brutal attitude of the security forces at the moment of arrest, detention and even while serving their sentences, they experience human rights violations which should not be allowed to take place.
With the www.papuansbehindbars.org website, the Civil Society Coalition for the Upholding of Law and Human Rights in the Land of Papua will work together with various other human rights groups in monitoring those political prisoners who continue to languish behind bars, both those under interrogation and those who are serving sentences in Papuan jails, in order to ensure that their human rights are protected.
1. Release all political prisoners in Papuan prisons in Papua and immediately begin a peace dialogue with the Papuan people.
2. Guarantee the rights of political prisoners, including access to health care and legal services.
3. Especially the Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs, to meet with political prisoners who are languishing in various Papuan jails to get fact for their situation and existence.
The Civil Society Coalition for the Upholding of Law and Human Rights in the Land of Papua consists of the following organisations:
Within Papua: Foker LSM, KontraS, ALDP, ElsHAM Papua, LBH Papua, KPKC Sinode GKI, TIKI, AJI Papua, Baptis Voices, Sinode Kingmi Papua, Sinode Baptis Papua, BUK, SKPKC FP, Sinode GIDI, Septer Manufandu, Gustaf Kawer, Cs, Yan Christian Warinussy.
Jakarta: KontraS dan Nasional Papua Solidarity (Napas)
The Biak district court again carried out the trial against two Biak KNPB (West Papua National Committee) activists, in the fourth hearing to hear the judge’s decision whether the case is continued or returned to the DA (District Attorney) because of incomplete material.
Biak Prosecutors indicted the two KNPB Biak activists, Barnabasl Mansoben and Paulus Alua, with charges under Indonesia’s national emergency laws for allegedly “intentionally carrying sharp tools and explosive bombs”, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
The lawyer for two of the KNPB activists said in their defence, the indictments were excessive, and with the absence of strong evidence to prosecute the two KNPB Biak activists, they appealed to the judge to release the two activists.
However, the judge rejected the lawyer’s submission to release the two activists, and said the trial will resume next week, to hear witnesses and examine evidence.
Meanwhile Apollos Sroyer, Chairman of KNPB Biak, said after the hearing that “this is the scenario of Indonesian police to criminalize peaceful movements of struggle performed by the KNPB.”
It is likely that most US citizens who consider themselves informed about global events are aware of the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor, yet it’s likely that few people in the US are aware of the ongoing genocide in West Papua, New Guinea.
In Rwanda, genocide resulted in an estimated 500,000 deaths in a 3-month period; in Bosnia, genocide resulted in an estimated 200,000 deaths in a 3-year period. In East Timor, there were more than 103,000 deaths in a 3-year period; and, in West Papua, New Guinea, there are conservative estimates of 100,000 Melanesian Papuans killed, and 300,000 displaced or missing over a 47-year period. Remarkable is the disparity of time between the Rwanda, Bosnia and East Timor genocides, ranging from 3 months to 3 years, contrasted with the ongoing 50-year genocide of indigenous West Papuans. In the aftermath of the Rwandan 3-month slaughter of 500,000 people, the carnage was blatant, the atrocities flagrant.
In view of the continuing carnage wrought in West Papua by the Indonesian military during the past 50 years, we must wonder why most people in the Western world are oblivious to the indigenous Melanesians’ plight, and what factors are contributing to the protraction of such abuse.
Indonesia’s colonization and military occupation of Dutch-owned West Papua was achieved, and continues, with the blessing of the governments of the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, and facilitated by the operation of the world’s largest copper and gold mine owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., a US corporation.
In addition, for more than 50 years, some of the world’s largest transnational mining corporations have been exploiting West Papua’s oil and minerals, including Union Oil, Amoco, Agip, Conoco, Phillips, Esso, Texaco, Mobil, Shell, Petromer Trend Exploration, Atlantic Richfield, Sun Oil and Freeport (USA); Oppenheimer (South Africa); Total SA (France); Ingold (Canada); Marathon Oil, Bird’s Head Peninsula (UK); Dominion Mining, Aneka Tambang, BHP, Cudgen RZ, and most critically, Rio Tinto (formerly RTZ-CRA) (Australia/UK).
The exploitation of natural resources by extractive industries results in catastrophic harms to human and environmental health and indigenous societies. Typically, mainstream global media, most of which are in thrall to corporate interests, look the other way when such military/corporate injustices are perpetrated upon indigenous populations.
New Guinea is the second largest island on earth, and one of 20,000-30,000 archipelagos in the South Pacific. The island is divided vertically, with independent Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern section and West Papua, now an unwilling province of Indonesia, occupying the western side. There are more than 250 tribes, more than 270 distinct languages and thousands of different pidgin dialects.
In addition to copper and gold, abundant natural resources include natural gas, oil, timber and fish. These resources profit corporate interests and the Indonesian government without compensation to the Melanesian population, who live in poverty.
In 1969, the Act of Free Choice consultation was held in West Papua to ascertain whether the indigenous Melanesian population preferred to remain a province within the nascent nation of Indonesia or become their own independent nation. The consultation was fraudulent, and free participation by the indigenous people was nil. Only 1025 West Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked ( by the government of Indonesia ) to vote and it was not implemented in accordance with international law of the New York Agreement on August 15, 1962 – One Man One Vote. It was a whitewash. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that a million people had their fundamental rights trampled ( CV Narasimhan, Deputy Secretary – General of the United Nations 1961 – 1978 ). Thus, the voiceless West Papuans became a province of Indonesia and the victims of 50 years of oppression.
The people of this forgotten land have struggled for freedom for 50 years under brutal Indonesian occupation. The people of the different tribes are raped, tortured and slaughtered, and their natural environment continues to be degraded. In their efforts to resist this injustice, their leaders have been arrested, tortured and threatened with death. For this reason, many now live in exile, where they continue to be involved in education and activism with the goal of enlisting the international community to join their efforts to achieve justice and freedom.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the rights of all people to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to peaceful assembly and association. Indonesia is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and Indonesia’s constitution also declares those rights. However, Indonesia’s continued arrest and incarceration of nonviolent political activists since the 1980s, and the October 19, 2011 arrests of more than 300 civilians during the Third National Congress, including Edison Waromi and Forkorus Yaboisembut, Prime Minister and President, respectively, will not deter Melanesians from their nonviolent struggle to secure self-determination within a democratic framework, and are recognized, respected and supported by the international community.
For this reason, many peaceful demonstrations took place around the world on
January 17, 2013. The Demonstrations commemorated the escape to freedom by 43 West Papuan refugees on January 17, 2006, when, after paddling across open ocean for four days and surviving a violent storm, they beached their traditional canoe in Australia and found asylum. Myself – Herman Wainggai – am one of those 43.
The Free West Papua Political Prisoners Team in Washington DC is a group of academics and human-rights activists who are willing to stand up for justice and work toward a free West Papua that is independent from military and corporate colonization.
Human Rights Watch reports that Indonesia has incarcerated nearly 100 activists from Maluku and Papua for peacefully voicing their patriotism and political views. As one of those former political prisoners forced into exile, I am now a visiting scholar at George Mason University, after being imprisoned for more than two years after daring to raise the West Papuan flag. My uncle, Dr. Thom Wainggai, died while imprisoned for the same demonstration of patriotism.
Free West Papua Campaign in Los Angeles, California
“I want to commend Moana Nui for organizing this demonstration on behalf of the people of West Papua to give voice to their fight for freedom and self-determination. We call on the leaders of all governments to stop supporting human rights abuses, murder, genocide and the military occupation of West Papua. To our brothers and sisters in West Papua: Continue to fight for what you know is right, for your freedom, your culture, for humanity. Know that, in this fight, you are not alone.” Harold Green. http://mnaa-ca.org/jan-17-2013-west-papua-action/
Free West Papua Campaign in Melbourne
Foreign Affairs Minister of the Federated Republic of West Papua, Jacob Rumbiak, said international activists are demanding that Indonesia remove its military personnel, and that president Yudhoyono must issue orders to stop the slaughter of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members.
“Six activists were arrested and tortured in Serui yesterday for handing out pamphlets about today’s rally, including Patris Rosumbre (Vice Governor, Saireri State, Federated Republic of West Papua) and Menase Karubaba,” he said. Rosumbre has since escaped, but the whereabouts of Karubaba are not known, and there is deep concern for his safety.
The Federated Republic of West Papua has called for negotiations with the Indonesian government under the auspices of the United Nations since 2011, and, Rumbiak claims, “Indonesia is losing credibility with its international donors in failing to respond to our invitation.”
Free West Papua Campaign in the Solomon Islands
In a statement from Honiara, Chairman of Solomon Islands for West Papua, Rexy Roses, highlighted that more than 50 years of tyranny and
immeasurable human rights abuses suffered by the indigenous people of West Papua at the hands of the occupying Indonesian military forces is more than too much to bear, and it is now time for dialogue and negotiations to end the violence in West Papua and to allow a peaceful referendum. This year will be a challenging one, and we will ensure that the cries of the indigenous Melanesian people of West Papua be heard in every corner of the Pacific and beyond.
Since the recent peaceful demonstration in Yapen Island and Manokwari, I have been told that the military agents are increasing their violent activity in West Papua and in many other places around West Papua. It is not difficult to imagine the impact that tens of thousands of Indonesian troops have on the daily lives of the West Papuan people. This new action by the Indonesian military raises the question: Why would Indonesia send so many troops to West Papua? Is this to intimidate the West Papuan people, to deny us our freedom of speech and prevent us from peacefully gathering in the land of our ancestors to debate and challenge the domination of our land and freedom? This recent West Papua Media report clearly states that the Indonesian government does not provide for the protection of human rights in West Papua.
For West Papuans, daily life is a nightmare, full of pain, suffering, torture, rape and bloodshed. There is no freedom to speak or act freely. The systematic oppression, terror, intimidation, kidnapping, incarceration, poisoning and murder of indigenous Melanesians in West Papua has not changed since I fled the country in 2006. It’s time to support the West Papuan people in their struggle for human rights and political independence.
Herman Wainggai is a West Papuan civil resistance activist based in Washington DC USA, and former political prisoner. He lectures in strategic non-violence and civil resistance and is a visiting scholar at George Mason University, Washington.
I write with the support of the people of West Papua, New Guinea, pro-democracy activists around the world and defenders of the rights of West Papuans, to say that the global support for democracy and freedom, and the end of 50 years of military colonization by Indonesia for will be exercised firmly and peacefully.
Peaceful demonstrations are planned for January 17, 2013 at the Embassy of Indonesia in Washington DC, Los Angeles, as well as in Manokwari, West Papua, Yapen Waropen, Papua, and Australia and the Solomon Islands to demand freedom for West Papuan political prisoners.
Today, people around the world are watching the peaceful demonstration in West Papua, where most are people are ready to take to the streets with music, dancing, and their demand that Indonesia free West Papua political prisoners.
Over the years, peaceful demonstrators in West Papua have been terrorized, imprisoned and killed by Indonesian military police. Edison Waromi, one of West Papua’s human rights defenders, has been imprisoned for more than 14 years, and we were imprisoned together for two of those years. West Papuan activists Edison Kendi and Yan Maniamboy currently are threatened with 20 years in prison for organizing a nonviolent rally in support of the United Nations’ InternationalDay of the World’s Indigenous People in New York in August 2012.
We demand that Indonesia immediately and unconditionally free all West Papuan political prisoners and end its military occupation of West Papua. We also request that the UN Special Rapporteur, who is scheduled to be in Indonesia in January, visit West Papua and meet with imprisoned political leaders of the Federated Republic of West Papua, such as President Forkorus Yaboisembut, Prime Minister Edison Waromi, and others.
Former political prisoner and visiting scholar at George Mason University
Filep Karma, a political prisoner of conscience from Papua, has attended a two-week medical treatment in Jakarta hospital and now is back in the Abepura prison in West Papua. He arrived in Jakarta on September 14 and took a colonoscopy treatment in PGI Cikini hospital, Jakarta.
Indonesian physicians in Jayapura, who earlier examined Karma with simple equipment, suspected that he has a colon tumor. As it is not possible to conduct a colonoscopy in West Papua the physicians referred him to the hospital in Jakarta.
Karma was imprisoned in 2004 and is serving 15 years in prison for participating in a peaceful independence demonstration and for raising the Morning Star flag, an important Papuan symbol of independence.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared him a political prisoner in September 2011, asking the Indonesian government to immediately and unconditionally release Karma. The government, however, denies the existence of “political prisoners” in Indonesia. His injuries were sustained from acts of torture inflicted on him while in prison. He also injured his hip during a falling in 2006.
It took nearly six months for Karma to be able to be transferred to Jakarta despite this referral. Abepura prison officials, under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, have refused to cover cost of his medical treatment and travel. The Indonesian government’s refusal to cover his costs is in direct contravention of national and international law.
According to United Nations Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Principle 24), and Indonesian law (Regulation No. 32/1999 on Terms and Procedures on the Implementation of Prisoners’ Rights in Prisons) it is required that all medical costs for treatment of a prisoner at a hospital be borne by the State.
Despite the Abepura prison authorities recently giving permission for Karma to travel to Jakarta, they still refuse to cover the cost of his medical treatment and travel. Funds have been raised through donations from the Prisoners of Conscience Appeal Fund (London), Rev. Socratez Yoman’s church service (Timika), STT Walter Post (Jayapura) and many individuals.
Not only Karma, there are seven political prisoners in Papua with variety of illness. They are Apotnagolik Lokobal (stroke); Ferdinand Pakage (stroke); Forkorus Yaboisembut (impaired vision); Kanius Murib (memory loss); Kimanus Wenda (hernia); Jefrai Murib (stroke); and Yusak Pakage (indigestion). Karma urges the Indonesia government should release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and give them the proper medical treatment.
(Note from Andreas Harsono/ HRW: Note: Filep Karma finished his medication on Tuesday and returned to Jayapura Wednesday night. He has arrived safe and sound in Jayapura Thursday morning. But he’s back to his Abepura prison. A number of family members, assistants and friends helped his hospitalization in Jakarta. I am sending you some photos from his medical treatment in Jakarta as well as the airport departure in Jakarta. His sister Margaretha, daughter Audryne (and her boy friend), assistants Cyntia Warwe and Soleman travelled with him back to Jayapura.