originally alerted via WestPapuaMedia #LiveUpdatesPapua, with additional reporting from Satu Juli
April 3, 2016
Update: 45 people have been confirmed detained without release since 8pm last night in Fakfak, mostly are primary and secondary school students.
On 2 May 2016, almost 2000 activists were arrested throughout West Papua, as they were engaging in peaceful activities to support the ULMWP’s full membership to the Melanesian Spearhead Group. Today, most of the activists have been released, after many were tortured and mistreated.
45 people have been confirmed detained without release since 8pm last night in Fakfak, mostly are primary and secondary school students. That region was to hold a peaceful march the next day, on 3 March, coinciding with the Meeting that is to be held today in London, regarding the Right to self-determination of the Papuan People.
This is a video of last night, when the Papuan activists were arrested and taken away from the ULMWP Secretariat/Fakfak Region, to the police station. More than 16 people were arrested at the time, at around 5.30 pm. That evening, others were arrested at around 8 pm. The names of the 16 arrested whom we know of, are:
Defence witnesses have revealed the extensive and systemic use of casual torture and inhumane treatment by Indonesian police, whilst testifying at the Makar (treason) trial of two West Papuan peaceful political activists in Yapen District Court, Serui, on April 9.
The activists had been threatened with twenty years jail for organising a nonviolent march about media freedom in West Papua. The two men, Edison Kendi (38) and Yan Piet Maniamboi (36) were arrested for their involvement in organising peaceful demonstrations in Yapen on May 1, and August 9, 2012 for World Day of Indigenous Peoples, and have been held in atrocious conditions in Serui prison and have been subjected to routine and regular torture since their arrest.
The treason trial has been beset by procedural mistakes and the failure to appear of several police officers as prosecution witnesses. Edison Kendi is the National Federated Republic of West Papua’s Governor of Saireri region.
According to independent observers present at the April 9 hearing, the four defence witnesses testified that they were beaten and tortured during detention and interrogation by Yapen police, and were forced to provide false information to stop the torture. The presiding judge suspended the trial for five minutes to talk with witnesses as the BAP (Case Records) were in danger of being revoked by the judge, legally inadmissible as they were based on testimony extracted under torture.
One of the witnesses, named John, answered Prosecutor Matius Matulesi’s questions on the validity of the Case Records version of testimony, the prosecutor disagreed with John and called him “Swanggi” (Devil or Ghost). Matulesi also began to threaten both the witnesses and defendants with hoax charges for testifying about their mistreatment. Matulesi, a Christian native of Maluku, is known as a hard-liner and being “very inhumane in demanding punishment to the fullest extent on native Papuans in Serui, according to human rights observers at the trial.
Edison Kendi had previously testified about the brutality inflicted on him and Maniamboi whilst being held at Yapen police station, and then after their transfer to Serui prison on December 9, 2012 . Kendi wrote in statement provided to observers:
“Since we were arrested we were tortured, kicked, pierced with wood, hit with wood, so we suffered extraordinary bruises and swellings, but (we were) never treated (for injuries) during our detention at the Yapen police station. Police did not allow us to be treated, for the reason we are OPM (Free Papua Movement).”
Matius Matulesi has also come in for heavy criticism over his violations of basic prisoner rights to medical treatment in this case, for injuries sustained by the defendants whilst under torture by Yapen police. According to Edison Kendi, “On December 19, 2012 I submitted an application to the clinic in the Prisons for medical treatment, but I was not allowed to go out (to the hospital) by the Attorney on behalf of Matius Matulesi, SH – so we just keep quiet and bore the pain. I’ve been treated at the clinic LP / prisons but with no improvement. I was sick when swelling on both my legs because of torture when captured and examined at the police Yapen station. I have repeatedly applied for treatment outside of LP / prisons but it’s all just all in vain since the detention December 6, 2012 – January 21, 2013 is not permitted by the prosecutor Mathius Matulesi, SH”.
Matulesi also allegedly prevented Kendi from attending the funeral of his father, allowing him only two minutes with his father’s body before being taken back to prison, despite other Indonesian prisoners, including prisoners convicted of violent terrorism offences, routinely granted this basic right.
The trial was adjourned for the prosecutor to present two investigators from the police station at the next session to be confronted with the witnesses’ testimony.
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.”
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.
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.
December 20, 2012 (WEST PAPUAN POLITICAL PRISONER DOMINIKUS SORABUT AMONGST WINNERS – SEE BELOW)
(New York) – Forty-one writers from 19 countries have received 2012 Hellman/Hammett grants for their commitment to free expression and their courage in the face of persecution.The award-winners have faced persecution for their work, generally by government authorities seeking to prevent them from publishing information and opinions. Those honored include journalists, bloggers, essayists, novelists, poets, and playwrights. They also represent numerous other writers worldwide whose personal and professional lives are disrupted by repressive policies to control speech and publications.
“The Hellman/Hammett grants help writers who have suffered because they published information or expressed ideas that criticize or offend people in power,” said Lawrence Moss, coordinator of the Hellman/Hammett grant program at Human Rights Watch. “Many of the writers honored by these grants share a common purpose with Human Rights Watch: to protect the rights of vulnerable people by shining a light on abuses and building pressure for change.”
Governments have used arbitrary arrest and detention, politically motivated criminal charges, and overly broad libel and sedition laws to try to silence this year’s Hellman/Hammett awardees. They have been harassed, threatened, assaulted, indicted, jailed on trumped-up charges, or tortured for peacefully expressing their views or informing the public. When abusive governments target writers, it intimidates others to practice self-censorship.
Free expression is a central human right, enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” On July 21, 2011, the Human Rights Committee, the expert body established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reiterated the central importance of freedom of opinion and expression, stating that these freedoms “are indispensable conditions for the full development of the person. They are essential for any society. They constitute the foundation stone for every free and democratic society.”
The Hellman/Hammett grants are given annually to writers around the world who have been targets of political persecution or human rights abuses. A distinguished selection committee awards the cash grants to honor and assist writers whose work and activities have been suppressed by repressive government policies.
The grants are named for the American playwright Lillian Hellman and her longtime companion, the novelist Dashiell Hammett. Both were both questioned by US congressional committees about their political beliefs and affiliations during the aggressive anti-communist investigations inspired by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Hellman suffered professionally and had trouble finding work. Hammett spent time in prison.
In 1989, the trustees appointed in Hellman’s will asked Human Rights Watch to devise a program to help writers who were targeted for expressing views that their governments oppose, for criticizing government officials or actions, or for writing about subjects that their governments did not want reported.
Over the past 23 years, more than 750 writers from 92 countries have received Hellman/Hammett grants of up to US$10,000 each, totaling more than $3 million. The program also gives small emergency grants to writers who have an urgent need to leave their country or who need immediate medical treatment after serving prison terms or enduring torture.
Of the 41 winners this year, six remain anonymous to prevent further persecution. A list and brief biographies of the award-winners, including just the countries of the anonymous grantees, is below.
A concentration of grantees in certain countries points to especially severe repression of free expression by those governments. Twelve of this year’s grantees come from the People’s Republic of China; four of them are Tibetan and remain anonymous for security reasons. Five grantees are from Vietnam, four from Ethiopia, and three from Iran.
“The compelling stories of the Hellman/Hammett winners illustrate the danger to journalists and writers around the world,” Moss said.
Dominikus Sorabut is a Papuan activist who also produced a number of film documentaries on issues such as deforestation, illegal mining, and Indonesian government efforts to eradicate Melanesian Papuan cultures. In 2010, he interviewed a Papuan farmer who was tortured by Indonesian soldiers, helping to provide international exposure of torture and suffering of the farmers. Sorabut has written several op-ed articles and a number of book manuscripts on the Papuan people. While attending a peaceful demonstration for Papuan independence in October 2011, Sorabut was arrested when Indonesian police and soldiers fired into the crowd and detained more than 300 protesters. Sorabut was convicted of treason along with four other Papuan figures and sentenced to three years in prison. He is in the Abepura prison in Jayapura, Papua.