Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni to face charges ‘for damaging public property’

According to Bintang Papua, 14 December 2010, two well known Papuan political prisoners are to face charges for alleged incitement and causing damage to the Abepura Prison.

The two men, Filep Karma who is serving a 15-year sentence, and Buchtar Tabuni who is serving a three-year sentence, were transferred from Abepura Prison to the custody of the police in Papua on 3 December. Three other prisoners who were charged under the criminal code were also transferred, Domminggus Pulalo who is serving two years, Alex Elopere who is serving three years and Lopes Karubaba who is serving two years.According to the chief of public relations of the police in Papua, Commissioner  Wachyono, they will face a series of charges under Articles 170 and 160 for incitement for which they face sentences of up to seven years.

‘Let no one run away with the idea that they are immune to the law, including these six (sic) men just because they are already serving sentences,’ said Wachyono.

Wachyono said that they were now being held in cells at the police command for security reasons. ‘If they were held at the district police command (Polsek), anything undesirable could happen, especially bearing in mind that many groups in society are not happy about the men being incarcerated.’

Referring to reports that relatives of the prisoners have been prohibited from visiting the men as well as members of the central KomnasHAM, Wachyono insisted that this was untrue. ‘There are no restrictions against anyone visiting them, as long as they comply with visiting hour procedures. People should not come when the men are resting,’ he said.

[According to information from relatives of Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, from the time of their transfer to police custody on 3 December until the present, visiting has been denied.]

As already reported, those now being charged started inflicting damage  after hearing that a co-prisoner, Wiron Wetipo who had escaped from the prison was shot dead by a joint patrol of the army and the police after they had raided a house in Tanah Hitam suspected of being the headquarters of the TPN/OPM. After learning of Wiron’s death, the prisoners started causing damage and inciting other prisoners to resist the prison authorities.

[According to information from colleagues of Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, the contrary is true. The two men, in particular Karma tried to mediate with the prisoners, urging them not to riot or cause any damage. TAPOL]

Karma continues his hunger strike; KomnasHAM unable to visit Filep and Buchtar

via Tabloid JUBI, 9 December 2010

Karma continues his hunger strike
The political prisoner, Filep Karma has said that he will continue with
his hunger strike, not taking food or drink, until he is returned to
Abepura Prison in Jayapura.

‘I will continue with my hunger strike until I am returned by the
police,’ he said when he met with JUBI. He said he was very
disappointed with the way he was being treated, being accused with
Buchtar Tabuni of causing a riot in the prison last Friday, 3 December.

‘There is no justification for all this treatment towards us,’ he said.

According to JUBI who met him at the police headquarters, even though he is on hunger strike, he looks healthy and keeps smiling.

The head of the District Office of the Department of Law and Human
Rights, Nazaruddin Bunas said that Karma and Tabuni were transferred to police custody because they were the ones who were behind the rioting in Abepura Prison, which is why they are at present in police custody.

The director of Abepura Prison said that he knows nothing about the
transfer of the two prisoners.


JUBI, 8 December 2010

KomnasHAM unable to visit Filep and Buchtar

The deputy head of the National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta, M. Ridah Saleh has expressed his disappointment at not being able to meet Filep Karma and Buchtar Tauni and regrets the fact that their families are not being given access, either

‘The police told us that we should make contact with the prison, even
though we have been given permission to meet them by the police (in
police custody),’ said Ridah Saleh.

He said that the rights of prisoners should be fully protected and
KomnasHAM and members of their families should be given the opportunity to visit the two men. Access to them must not be closed’

Their rights to get medical treatment must also be respected, to avoid
any further problems.

Members of their families are also hoping for access because this is in
accordance with the procedures. This should also apply to the other
three prisoners.

Before going to the police, they had paid a visit to the direskrim
(criminal investigation) where they met Petrus Waine, who said that
KomnasHAM could come and discuss the matter of there being no access to the two prisoners but when they arrived there, no disreskrim people were available to meet them.

‘This is very disappointing indeed, because we were given a promise but when we went there, there was no one who wanted to meet us to discuss this matter.’

The plan of KomnasHAM to visit Filep and Buchtar also had to be
abandoned because these two political prisoners had been moved away from Abepura Prison.

Photos from KNPB mass actions in Wamena, Sept 2

Mass Rallies were held across West Papua by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) on Thursday September 2. They demanded an immediate return of Special Autonomy, and called for a Referendum as the only solution to Papuan’s grievances.

In Wamena, several thousand people gathered to peacefully rally. Although security forces were present in large numbers, there were no reports from Wamena of any immediate security force violence or arrests directly related to the rallies.

Photos follow – please click on thumbnail for full size

West Papua is Indonesia’s Palestine.

West Papua is Indonesia’s Palestine.

August 16, 2010

John Ondawame is right. West Papua is on the verge of a “total intifada” (Ben Bohane, ‘West Papua warns of intifada against Jakarta’, Sydney Morning Herald, August 7 2010). Intifada means to “shake off” in Arabic. It has become a word used to describe the desire by Palestinians to free themselves from foreign occupation. The question is what kind of intifada is and will take place in West Papua? Will it be like the recent Palestinian intifada, led by a resurgent Hamas? An uprising of fury waged through political terror. Or will it be like the 1987 Palestinian intifada, a largely unarmed insurrection?

West Papua is the Indonesia’s Palestine. Papuans consider that their land has been occupied without their consent. Freedom of expression is prohibited, foreign journalists banned, migrants continue to pour into the country, and the police and military keep a repressive lid on boiling Papuan anger. It is also a modern day Avatar. Papuans are defending their land form the exploitative practices of resource extractive industries. For the Papuans theirs is a struggle for survival.

However, unlike Palestine and the film Avatar, resistance to the Indonesian government’s rule has overwhelmingly been through civilian based movements. Only last month, for instance, 20,000 plus people – students, women, young people, religious leaders, NGO activists, traditional chiefs, farmers and even members of the Majelis Rakyat Papua, West Papua’s indigenous senate – all converged on the capital and occupied the provincial parliament for two days to pressure the Papuan political elite to hand back Special Autonomy, a package or policy, finance, and legislation designed to give Papuans a measure of self-rule. After ten years of broken promises and still born hopes, Papuans concluded Special Autonomy had failed. It is a news story that should have been covered by every major media outlet. But here in Australia we heard next to nothing.

Now, as Bohane writes, Papuans are feeling abandoned by their Melanesian kin. At the recent Pacific Island Forum, Vanuatu tried to raise the West Papua issue but Papua New Guinea’s political leaders blocked the discussion. Again. The Australia and New Zealand governments also failed to raise their voice for on behalf of Papuan rights. Again.

Some Papuan leaders are now talking about making the territory ungovernable through mass civilian based non-cooperation with Jakarta. How long civil resistance continues depends not only on the tactical and strategic choices made by Papuan leaders. In part it also depends on whether solidarity movements in the region, including inside Indonesia, can raise the political and economic costs so that political leaders and foreign companies feel compelled to agree to what Papuans have been demanding for years: political dialogue with Jakarta and the international community about their grievances.

Will the international community support the Papuan’s right to rise up for freedom? Or will they send the same message they sent to the Kosovo Albanians? That international intervention and the goal of independence will only come about when there is armed struggle and mass violence. Surely we can all do better than that.

Jason MacLeod

(The writer lectures in political science at the University of Queensland.)

HRW: Indonesia: Free ‘Balloon Activists’ in Ambon


Indonesia: Free ‘Balloon Activists’ in Ambon
Ill-Treatment of Political Prisoners in Earlier Episodes Raises Grave Concerns
August 10, 2010

Related Materials:
Prosecuting Political Aspiration
Indonesia: Stop Prosecuting Peaceful Political Expression
Indonesia’s Not-So-Well-Kept Secret

Sadly, free speech in Indonesia is about as sturdy as the detained activists’ balloons. The Indonesian government publicly claims that it respects freedom of expression, so it should live up to its word and free these peaceful protesters immediately.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Indonesian authorities should immediately release the activists for Moluccan independence arrested in Ambon at the beginning of August 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. The activists were allegedly planning to float banned Moluccan independence flags attached to balloons to protest an August 3 visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Local sources reported that between 7 and 15 activists were arrested in connection with balloon launch plans to express political opposition to Indonesian rule in the Moluccas Islands. The police reportedly confiscated as evidence 133 posters that read “Free Alifuru and Papua Political Prisoners,” two copies of the June 2010 Human Rights Watch report “Prosecuting Political Aspiration,” 17 separatist Southern Moluccas Republic (Republik Maluku Selatan or RMS) flags, and one 12-pound gas cylinder to be used to fill the balloons. Yudhoyono was in Ambon to open the “Sail Banda” event, organized by the Tourism Ministry and the Moluccas Islands government to promote tourism in the Banda Sea.

“Sadly, free speech in Indonesia is about as sturdy as the detained activists’ balloons,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Indonesian government publicly claims that it respects freedom of expression, so it should live up to its word and free these peaceful protesters immediately.”

Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern that past torture and ill-treatment of political prisoners in Ambon puts the recently detained activists at serious risk. The detainees should have immediate access to family members and legal counsel, Human Rights Watch said.

Those arrested include Benny Sinay, Izak Sapulete, Andy Marunaya, Edwin Marunaya, Ongen Krikof, Marven Bremer, Steven Siahaya, and Ony Siahaya. Jacob Sinay, who lost his civil service job in December 2009 because of his political activism, is also being held. Most were arrested at their homes on August 2 and 3. Some were also arrested because they publicly unfurled the separatist RMS flag in some places in the archipelago, including on Ambon and Saparua islands.

Observers at the Sail Banda event in the Yos Sudarso seaport in Ambon described what they considered to be a very large deployment of police officers and military personnel. The security forces apparently sought to prevent a repeat of Yudhoyono’s June 29, 2007 visit, when 28 local Moluccan dancers were able to enter the Ambon stadium, dance the cakalele war dance, and unfurl the RMS flag.

More than 70 men were arrested after the 2007 dance. Many were tortured after being handed over to Anti-Terror Unit 88 forces based in Ambon. The Ambon district court convicted more than three dozen of them, including the dance leader Johan Teterisa, of treason and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 5 to 20 years. Teterisa was sentenced to 15 years and is in the Malang prison in eastern Java.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Ambon authorities confiscated the recent Human Rights Watch report, “Prosecuting Political Aspiration,” as possible evidence in a case against the activists. The report profiles the cases of 10 prominent Papuan and Moluccan activists currently behind bars for expressing their political views, and details ill-treatment they suffered in detention and violations of their due process rights.

In June, Human Rights Watch discussed the findings of the report in Jakarta with officials from the Law and Human Rights Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the National Commission on Human Rights. At least 100 Papuans and Moluccans are in prison in Indonesia for peacefully expressing their political views.

“By arresting the Ambon activists, the Indonesian authorities are repeating the very mistakes that raised doubts globally about Indonesia’s commitment to improving human rights,” Robertson said. “The government should release these peaceful protesters immediately and spare the country further international condemnation.”

Human Rights Watch takes no position on claims to self-determination in Indonesia or in any other country. Consistent with international law, Human Rights Watch supports the right of all individuals, including independence supporters, to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal.

Most of the current political prisoners in Indonesia were convicted of makar (treason) under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

However, freedom of expression is protected both in Indonesia’s constitution and international human rights law. The constitution in article 28(e) states, “Every person shall have the right to the freedom of association and expression of opinion.” Article 28(f) provides, “Every person shall have 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.”

In December 2007, the Indonesian government issued Government Regulation 77/2007, which regulates regional symbols. Article 6 of the regulation bans display of flags or logos that have the same features as “organizations, groups, institutions or separatist movements.” Both the Papuan Morning Star flag and the RMS flag are considered to fall under this ban.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in 2006, also protects the right to free expression. Under article 19, “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

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