Journalists face difficulties when trying to report about the trial of Buchtar Tabuni

25 September 2012[Photo at the top of the report shows several of the police on guard, all of whom are heavily armed.]

The police who guarded the courthouse during the trial of Buchtar Tabuni made it difficult for some of the journalists wanting to cover the case to gain access to the court.

Benny Mawel of JUBI said: ‘I showed my press card but the police  insisted that I open my bag and take everything in it out for them to examine’ He said that access to the court had been made difficult.

Journalists were interrogated and the police demanded to see the contents of their cases. ‘This happened not only to me but to other journalists,’ said Benny Mawel, ‘even though we had clearly displayed our press cards.’

This did not happen during the earlier hearings of the trial.

A journalist  from Papua Pos Daily, Rudolf,  also said he had been heavily investigated. His bag had also been searched. He said that before entering the court, he hung his press cord round his neck but even so, the police examined the contents of his bag.

While on the one hand regretting the  measures taken against journalists by the police, Viktor Mambor, chairman of the Jayapura branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI. said he hoped that journalists would understand what the police were doing.

”They certainly acted excessively and this should not be necessary this if journalists have clearly shown their press cards. But at the same time,’ he said,  ‘I could understand what they were doing because during an earlier discussion I had with the chief of police, there was concern about the fact that the credentials of some of the journalists were suspect because of recent indications about the involvement of certain pressmen in the recent violent conflict  in Papua.’

He went on to say that some time around July this year, a journalist had been interrogated by the police because he had reported that the Morning Star Flag had been flown on some occasions. In Papua, such reports only complicate matters because it stigmatises people, thereby legitimising excessive measures taken by the security forces. As Papuans, we have to understand this,’ he said.

Translated by TAPOL]

Buchtar Tabuni sentenced to eight months; tight security round the courthouse.



Bintang Papua
24 September 2012
The former chairman of the KNPB – National Committee for West Papua – was sentenced to eight months in prison, having been charged with inflicting damage on the prison where he was held. The sentence was  less than the demand of the prosecutor who wanted the accused to be sentenced to one year. The eight month sentence will be reduced by the time the accused has already spent behind bars.Aggravating circumstances were that he had previously  been sentenced and that his actions caused anxiety among the people, while the mitigating factor was that he had behaved politely in court.

Following the announcement of the verdict, the defence team said that they had not yet decided whether to launch an appeal against the sentence. ‘We are still thinking about how we will respond,’ said Gustav Kawar.

The defence team said that the sentence was light and the accused should have been released. However, according to Gustav Kawar. the panel of judges had  given him a sentence as the result of external interference.

Bintang Papua, 25 September 2012

After further consideration, the defence team said that the verdict had not been decided independently and had been seriously influenced by the authorities, Gustav Kawar told  journalists. This influence had come from the security forces, that is to say the army and the police This was the factor that had caused the judges to hesitate before reaching their verdict. There were also doubts because of the fact that the testimony from several of the witnesses was contradictory. Nor had it been proven that the accused had been acting  in consort with others.

According to Gustav Kawar, the Criminal Procedural Code (KUHP) stipulates that  if  any element in the charge has been proven to be invalid, the entire charge must be declared invalid. The accused as well as his defence team said that they would consider what to do in the coming seven days.

Security measures round  the court

On the day the verdict was announced, around 230 security forces from the local and district forces, including personnel  from the police intelligence unit, Brimob  were among those standing guard.

The chief of police said that several  elements of the security forces had taken part in security at the time of the various hearings.  He asserted that  they had discovered sharp weapons among the crowd of people outside the courthouse following the earlier hearings but after measures had been taken, this did not occur during the latter hearings.

[Translated by TAPOL]


OPM: ‘Three regions are ready to fly the Morning Star flag’

Bintang Papua, 27 June 2012

The OPM’s general coordinator, Lambert Pekikir has announced that three regions in Papua are ready to fly the Morning Star flag on 1 July, the anniversary of the OPM’s military wing, the TPN.

The flag flying will last for three days, along with fireworks. He said that the three regions are Wamena, Keerom and Yapen Waropen. People in Wamena are from the mountains, the people Yapen Waropen are coastal people, while those from valleys and lowland areas live in Keerom.

OPM troops along with  civilian sympathisers will take part in the flag-flying. ‘There will be ceremonies as well, attended by the general public and those struggling for an independent Papua.

‘Our military forces are well prepared for these events and if the TNI and police respond with violence, we are ready,’ he said.

Meanwhile,  the police have issued an ultimatum urging that there is no flag flying.  ‘The Morning Star flag is not a flag of the Indonesian Republic or a regional symbol, and anyone who unfurls that flag anywhere in Papua will be seen as having  violated the law and  will face the consequences in accord with the laws in force in Indonesia.’

The army spokesman, Yohannes Nugroho Wicaksono  called on people not to fly the flag. ‘In the interest of security and order throughout the area of Papua,  we urging people not to be provoked by those who are planning this event.’

Activities undertaken by the police in anticipation of the flag flying on 1 July include intensifying police patrols and sweepings in all police regions. He said that the police have been ordered to act professionally.’

The chairman of Commission A of  the DPRP, the Papuan legislative assembly, Ruben Magai, has called on all the people not to be provoked by unnecessary issues in advance of the TPN anniversary. He hoped that people will continue to engage in their everyday activities, while calling on the security forces not to use violence. ‘The persuasive approach must be prioritised. The best thing would be for all those concerned to sit down and talk, to as to find out what each sides wants.

[Slightly abridged translation by TAPOL]

Melkianus Bleskadit sentenced to two years

JUBI, 19 August 2011

Melkianus Bleskadit was sentenced yesterday in Manokwari court to two
years for his role when the 14-star flag was raised.

A day earlier, the prosecutor asked for him to be sentenced to five
years. The prosecutor has announced that he will mount an appeal against
the verdict.

In a report made public by the human rights lawyer Yan Christian
Warimnussy it was stated that Melkianus was arrested along with Dance
Yenu for flying the 14-star flag to mark the anniversary of independence
for ‘West Melanesia ‘ on 14 December 2010.

In a comment on the verdict, Yan Christian Warinussy who was also a
member of the defence team, said that while the judges had taken a good
decision by limiting the punishment to the criminal element of the
incident, indicating that he was not willing to go as far as the
prosecutor, in the end his client had been given a much higher sentence.
According to past experience involving the case of Jacob Wanggai and his
colleagues, the judges had passed a shorter sentence which was
subsequently increased at the request of the prosecutor, resulting in a
far higher sentence.

He also said that the defendant had been held in a cell of the Manokwari
prosecutor at the Manokwari prison in breach of the law. He said that
both the judge as well as the chief prosecutor had obstructed his
client’s release to the moment when the high court judge could decide on
extending the period of the appeals detention which should have ended
on 19 August.

The three hours of freedom that his client should have enjoyed had been
denied him by the decisions of the prosecutor and the judge. Moreover,
there was a show of force when a company of police security officers as
well special intelligence personnel stood on guard round Bleskadit at
the office of the prosecutor. He said that the the lack of
professionalism by both of these institutions had resulted in his client
being deprived of his basic rights.

Seven more Papuans facing charges of makar

According to two reports in the tabloid, JUBI on 16 June 2011, there are seven Papuans currently on trial on charges of makar – subversion. In all these cases, the allegations relate to their participation in an event to commemorate the anniversary of the independence of the West Melanesian Republic on 14 December 2010 and their holding aloft the 14-star flag of the West Melanesian Republic. [This is not the Morning Star flag – the kejora – which is also frequently unfurled at peaceful demonstrations in Papua and has landed numerous Papuans in prison over many years.]

The first report relates to the trial of five students of UNIPA – State University of Papua. The five students are Jhon Raweyai, Yance Sekenyap, Penehas Sorongan, Alex Duwiri and Jhon Wilson Wader, whose ordeal in court has now entered its second hearing.

At this hearing, the defendants and their team of lawyers were given the opportunity to submit their demurrers challenging the court’s right to proceed with the trial. Their lawyer Simon Riziard Banundi said that he had submitted two demurrers as the five students were being tried in two groups.

The trial of the two other Papuans on charges of subversion was unable to proceed because three expert witnesses who had been called by the prosecution had failed to appear as promised. These two men, Melkianus Bleskadit and Dance Yenu are also being defended by Simon Riziard Banundi. Banundi sought clarification at the hearing about whether indeed the witnesses had been summoned as the prosecutors had failed to present copies of the summons sent to them. One of the witnesses was said to be ill while no explanation was given about the absence of the other two.

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