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West Papua: 61 new political prisoners on 1st December West Papuan National Day commemoration crackdown

December 10, 2019
Verantwortlich für die folgenden Artikel sind Autor*innen und Herausgeber*innen. Der Beitrag spiegelt nicht unbedingt die Ansichten von Watch Indonesia wieder! I Responsible for the articles below are author and publication. The contribution does not necessarily reflect the views of Watch Indonesia!

Photos Rally. Solidarity with West Papua – Free all political prisoners

December 10, 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Photos Rally in Sydney. . Solidarity with West Papua – Free all political prisoners (S

Rally. Solidarity with West Papua – Free all political prisoners
DFAT office Sydney. 10 December
84 treason cases brought against activists in the last three months,
including six activists in Jakarta who are being held in prison for speaking out in
support of Papuan self-determination and unfurling the Papuan flag. IMG_9042.jpg

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Photos below from GLW facebook page

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AWPA Sydney News at 1:46 AM

Photos at https://awpasydneynews.blogspot.com/2019/12/photos-rally-in-sydney-solidarity-with.html


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The quest for national sovereignty

December 8, 2019

https://www.dw.com/en/the-quest-for-national-sovereignty/a-51521978

Deutsche Welle

The quest for national sovereignty

Independence movements are gaining momentum in the Pacific. These areas are bound by a common history of colonialism, minority repression and a geopolitical tug-of-war.

Bougainville, an island of just 250,000 inhabitants, belongs to Papua New Guinea ­ but it may not be for long. The tiny Pacific island has held an independence referendumand, according to experts, Bougainville’s residents look set to overwhelmingly back the nonbinding vote. The results are expected later this month.

While independence movements like those in Catalonia and Scotland have made headlines in Europe lately, independence referenda and movements are much more widespread in Oceania and the surrounding area today. East Timor, previously annexed by Indonesia, was the first country in the region to gain independence in the 21st century.

"There is one thing that unites all pacific island states: namely their colonial past," said Hermann Mückler, a professor of social and cultural anthropology at Vienna University. Some states, he added, were even colonized by more than one power. The Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal, France and the US ­ there was hardly a powerful state that did not colonize parts of the southwestern Pacific.
Pacific states remain dependent

To this day, Oceania remains of special geopolitical significance to global powers like the US and China. The US was keen on expanding its influence in this area especially during the Cold War era. These days, however, both the US and China are vying for power in this region, with Beijing seeking to win over Pacific island states with a lending splurge. Some of these states, however, recognize the self-governing island of Taiwan as an independent nation, even though Beijing considers it part of its territory. And this is a matter that China finds hard to stomach.

The Pacific region’s colonial past and its geopolitical importance have caused conflicts and dependencies, as illustrated by the case of Chuuk State, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. Chuuk has a population of only 49,000 and has been striving for independence since 2015. Its referendum has been postponed again and again but is now planned for March 2020. Chuuk, however, depends on the millions of dollars the US pays to keep military bases there. If the island does become independent, the US will cease its payments.

Mückler says apart from this, the region lacks economic independence. "All of these island states can barely exist on their own, they rely on money coming in mainly from Australia, the US and the EU ­ and most recently China," he said.

The reason for their reliance on foreign money is that they are in remote locations and have barely any natural resources. Any goods they do produce are too costly to sell due to the significant transport costs involved. And so effectively, these states remain reliant on large states even though the colonial era has passed.

Suppressed minorities

Even so, many regions nevertheless yearn for independence. This has to do with the fact that many ethnic groups feel their rights are not being respected, which becomes clear in West Papua, the western half of the vast New Guinea island, an area that is rich in natural resources ­ particularly copper.

After the colonial era, West Papua became part of Indonesia, a Muslim majority country, which waged a violent campaign against the local, Christian minority. "A civil war has been raging there (over Papuan rights) for decades, but it has been largely overlooked by the global community," said Mückler.

The odds that Indonesia will grant the resource-rich area independence are very slim, he added.

Papuans have protested against racism in Indonesia and demand more autonomy

What do independence movements have in common?

In Oceania, the combination of a colonial legacy, geopolitical interests and suppressed minorities has spawned numerous independence movements. Yet Mückler says this cannot be applied to understanding independence movements elsewhere in the world, as each is unique. Some emerge over current conflicts, while others date back to arbitrarily drawn borders in the colonial era, stretching back hundreds of years ago.

Mückler says these Oceanic independence movements could "set an example" if they manage to strike a balance between respecting regional dependencies while also maintaining their cultural identity. But, he says, "Right now it does not look like they will achieve this."

"Many global independence movements exist for a good reason," Mückler said, but adds that these are also often hijacked by charismatic leaders with an ax to grind. This, he says, leads to old dependencies simply being replaced by new ones, without bringing the freedom and independence that supporters had hoped to see come to fruition.


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Until December 1, 112 people were arrested in one week

December 7, 2019

https://www.jubi.co.id/hingga-1-desember-112-orang-ditangkapi-dalam-satu-minggu/

December 1, 112 people were arrested in one week

4 hours ago

Reporter: Victor Mambor

0

One in four students who were arrested by police from the Good Shepherd Church in Abepura on December 1 – Doc. LBH Papua
Papua No. 1 News Portal | Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – Around 112 people have been arrested in several cities in the provinces of Papua and West Papua by 1 December 2019. Some of them were later named suspects by the police for plotting to raise the Morning Star flag.

The first arrest was experienced by a young Papuan activist named Pilipus Robaha. Pilipus was arrested at his home on November 26, 2019. Five days before December 1, which are celebrated annually by Papuans as a day of political manifesto for the people of Papua. He was arrested and then questioned because of a letter circulating on social media related to [a call to follow] worship celebration activities to commemorate December 1 at Trikora Square. The Pilipus was released the next day because there was no strong evidence of the connection between Pilipus and the circulating letter.

The day after Pilipus’s arrest, eight people were arrested in Manokwari around 03.00 local time. West Papua Regional Police Chief (Kapolda), Brigadier General Herry Rudolf Nahak said of the eight police seized 29 large Morning Star flags, a number of posters and pamphlets, as well as two cars.

"When questioned by the police, eight people claimed to have joined in because they received leaflets for demonstrations at the Borasi Square in Manokwari on Wednesday morning," said the regional police chief.

As of Thursday (5/12/2019), eight of these people are still being held at the Manokwari Police Station. The police said there had not been a determination of these eight suspects. But according to Yan Warinussy, Executive of the Manokwari Research, Study and Legal Aid Development Institute (LP3BH), seven people have been named as treason suspects while one is a witness.

Subsequent arrests took place in Sentani City, Jayapura Regency. 34 people were arrested on Saturday (11/30/2019) night. Police said 34 people were arrested while walking towards Trikora Square, Abepura to fly the Morning Star flag in the field. The police also accused them of being members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) in the Demta District and Sarmi District after they found the TPNPB membership card.

"We have released 14 people. 20 people were named as suspects. Six of them were snared by the Emergency Law related to the possession of Sharp Weapons and were suspected of committing treason activities Article 106 and Article 2 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code. "Said Jayapura Police Chief, AKBP. Victor Makbon.

Whereas 13 people were ensnared in the article 106 Criminal Code Criminal Case and another suspect of treason and incitement in Article 106 and Article 160 Criminal Code.

Lawyers from the Papua Human Rights Advocates Association, Yohanis Mambrasar, SH, admitted that the 20 people were charged with treason.

"True, these 20 people have all been named as Makar suspects, Art. 106 jo 87,110 jo 88 Criminal Code. Seven of which are subject to the treason article are also subject to the SAJAM Article, Art. 106 jo 87,110 jo 88 KUHP, and Art 1 (2) Emergency Law 12/1951, "Karon said.

Currently, according to Mambrasar, PAHAM Papua is preparing a power of attorney for these 20 people.

On Sunday morning, 4 students were arrested in the Good Shepherd church, Abepura. The four were arrested while worship was taking place. The four students named Marvin Yobe, Desepianus Dumupa, Paul Halapok and Devion Tekege were arrested by the police for carrying the Morning Star flag while worshiping in addition to putting on their bodies with pictures of the Morning Star pattern and using koteka.

Desepianus Dumupa, one of the four students arrested said their goal of worship while carrying the Morning Star Flag was to ask God for freedom.

"Our goal of worship while carrying a flag is to ask for help from God, ask for freedom for us Papuans," said Desepianus Dumupa, one of the four students arrested.

1

Infographic arrest – Jubi
The four students were released after being examined until 01.00 Monday, early morning. The first inspection was carried out at Abepura Sector Police. Furthermore, after the police did not find evidence at the boarding houses of these four students, the police took them to Jayapura Regional Police to continue the investigation.

Monday morning, Father James Kosay, who led a service at the Good Shepherd Church on December 1, was summoned by the police to be interrogated in connection with the arrest of 4 students at the church.

"At the time of the arrest there were around 20 officers in plain clothes and uniforms entering the church. It makes people who are worshiping, panic, "said Father James.

One day earlier, the police also summoned Markus Haluk, Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to be examined in connection with the Joint Prayer Call on December 1, 2019. Haluk was examined for 6 hours with 39 questions.

Subsequent arrests took place in Fakfak, Sunday (1/12/2019) around 3:00 pm local time, the Fakfak Resort Police (Polres) arrested 54 people in Warpa Village, Pikpik Village and Mambuni – Buni Village, Kayauni District. 54 of these people were accused of wanting to wave the Morning Star flag at the home of the Fakfak Regent. In addition, the police said 54 of these people were TPNPB members because they were found when they were arrested.

Fakfak Police Chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner Ary Nyoto Setiawan said that the Morning Star flag was raised in Kampung Warpa Kayuni District by 23 people complete with sharp weapons. When arrested, according to the police chief, more than Rp88 million was discovered.

"This money will be sent to their highest leadership in Jayapura," said the police chief.

From the results of the examination, the police have officially set 23 people as suspects.

"Because those who want to go down to Fakfak to fly the Morning Star flag at the official residence of the Fakfak regent," said Kasat Reskrim Polres Fakfak AKP Misbachul Munir, SIK.

Circulating photos of arrests in Fakfak

2

The photo is suspected as a photo of the arrest in Pikpik Village, Fakfak Regency. This photo has become viral since December 4 – facebook

The arrest in Fakfak later reaped criticism from the Papuan people. Because somehow, the photo of the arrest in Pikpik Village appeared on social media. In the photo, a number of people were tied together with ropes together then left to sit on the road bare-body.

"The right word for the photo is slavery. And those who can do that are those who practice colonialism. And even then they experienced before independence so there is a tendency to practice it to the oppressed, "said Filep Karma about the photo of the viral arrest.

Fakfak Police have not confirmed whether the photo was actually a photo at the time of arrest in Pikpik or not. Kasfreskrim Fakfak Police did not answer the phone nor WhatsApp messages to verify the photo. Likewise with the West Papua Regional Police. However, a number of Fakfak residents confirmed that the photo was a photo of the arrest of Pikpik villagers on 1 December.

"These (those) people were arrested on the 1st (December). "Pace (male) with white feather chest is (I) have a classmate, Yance Hegemur," a Fakfak resident said by telephone when he was confirmed about the photo of the arrest.

The same conviction was also conveyed by the Chairperson of the Domberai Traditional Council, Finsen Mayor.

"He. That (photo) incident of December 1 in Fakfak. They were immediately transported to the Fakfak Mapolres that night, "said Mayor.

Since Tuesday (11/26/2019) until Wednesday (4/12/2019) afternoon, there were 101 people arrested and questioned by police in connection with 1 December. 82 people are still being held in Fakfak, Manokwari and Sentani. The rest has been released. 27 people have been named as treason suspects, 20 each in Sentani and 7 in Manokwari.

According to Yan Warinussy, arrests for arrests before each December 1, only worsen the image of the Indonesian government. Because Papua has a different historical background from other regions in Indonesia. The recognition is even implicit in the mandate of the letter e of Law Number 21 of 2001 concerning Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua.

"December 1 should be used as a milestone to make constructive efforts to straighten the history of Papua by the people of Papua themselves and the country, for the sake of peace," said Warinussy.

The Executive Director of the Manokwari Research, Study and Development Legal Aid Institute (LP3BH) assesses that every Papuan social and political movement that carries different aspirations from this country should be responded to softly and accommodated through peaceful dialogue. (*)

——————————————

https://en.antaranews.com/news/137768/sales-of-alcoholic-drinks-banned-in-papua-govt

2) Sales of alcoholic drinks banned in Papua: Govt

Biak, Papua (ANTARA) – The Papuan provincial government has ordered all district and city administrations to ban sales of alcoholic drinks ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, and the convening of the 2020 National Games (PON). "I call on the Biak Numfor district government and all related law enforcement agencies to support the implementation of the policy on the liquor ban in Papua," First Assistant of the Papua Provincial Government’s Secretary Doren Wakerwa said here Friday.

The Papuan government had effectively banned the production, distribution and sales of alcoholic beverages since 2016 based on the Regional Government’s Regulation Number 15/2013.

Every district and city administration needs to support the policy, he told journalists after opening the focus group discussion on law enforcement against the violators of the liquor ban policy.

The regional government’s regulation number 15/2013 could protect the Papuan people from the harmful impact of alcohol consumption, such as loss of consciousness, and engaging in acts of domestic violence and crimes, according to Doren Wakerwa.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages among local community members might have contributed to the shortened life expectancy of native Papuans, he said.

Considering the harmful impact of liquor, the native Papuan people are expected to be collectively aware of the dire need to support the liquor ban by supervising the sales of alcoholic beverages at minimarkets and kiosks.

Being aware of the dangers, Chairperson of the Papuan Women’s Solidarity (SPP) – Mimika Chapter Ros Namsa Kabes has urged the Mimika district government and local police to enforce legal sanctions against those selling liquor to Papuan children.

Law enforcement was deemed crucial since people in an inebriated state were often found on the roadsides of Timika, the capital city of Mimika District, Kabes stated while speaking in connection with efforts to empower the native Papuan people last August. (INE)
Related news: Feminist calls to enforce law against liquor sellers in Papua

Reporter: Muhsidin, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto

Scores of Papua activists across Indonesia await trial for treason

December 7, 2019

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/scores-papua-activists-across-indonesia-await-trial-treason

Scores of Papua activists across Indonesia await trial for treason

James Balowski December 7, 2019
Issue 1248 Indonesia
West Papua

Surya Anta Ginting, the national spokesperson for the pro-independence Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua — who along with five other Papuan activists is being held in Jakarta’s notorious Salemba prison awaiting trial on treason charges — is reportedly seriously ill.

Anta’s wife Lucia Fransisca told reporters that she visited him on November 29 and found that he and the other five Papuan detainees were ill and were not receiving proper medical treatment.

She said that although a doctor did check on Anta’s condition, no physical examination was conducted, as is usually the case with other prisoners. She said Anta is weak, nauseous, unable to stand, has a cold sweat and had been suffering a high fever all day.

Fransisca said the Papuan prisoners are being held under "inhuman conditions", noting that Salemba prison is severely overcrowed and lacks clean drinking water and decent food. The six are reportedly being held along with more than 600 others who have to share one toilet.

Anta, who is a leading member of the leftist People’s Liberation Party and earned the government’s ire in 2016 for publicly apologising for Indonesian repression against indigenous Papuans, is the first non-Papuan Indonesian to be charged with treason for supporting West Papuan independence.

Anta is one of eight activists caught in a wave of arrests following a protest on August 28 in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta against racism against ethnic Papuans, during which the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag was flown.

Police arrested Papuan students Charles Kossay and Dano Tabuni over the rally on August 30. The following day Ambrosius Mulait and Issay Wenda were detained for protesting the arrest of Kossay and Tabuni, outside the Jakarta police headquarters. Later that evening, police arrested three women activists, releasing two but detaining theology student Ariana Lokbere. Anta was picked up that evening while eating at the Plaza Indonesia mall.

The arrests took place amid a wave of sometimes violent protests and riots in Papua and West Papua provinces in August and September, during which thousands of people took part in rallies protesting against racism and calling for independence. The protests erupted after a video circulated, showing right-wing militia and military personnel racially abusing indigenous Papuan students outside their dormitory in the East Java city of Surabaya on August 17.

In addition to several rallies in Jakarta, Papuans demonstrated in at least 30 cities across the country. Rioting Papuans burned down the local parliament building in Manokwari, as well as prisons in Sorong, West Papua, and Jayapura, Papua.

Police arrested eight Papuan activists in the Papua capital of Jayapura over September 9–17, including student leaders Alexander Gobay and Ferry Gombo, as well as six activists from the pro-independence West Papua National Committee: Buchtar Tabuni, Steven Itlay, Assa Asso, Agus Kossay, Hengki Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmobin.

In Manokwari, West Papua, police arrested four activists including Sayang Mandabayan, who was detained on September 2 for bringing 1500 small Morning Star flags through Manokwari airport. Three student activists were also arrested on September 19 for making Morning Star flags: Erik Aliknoe, Pende Mirin and Yunus Aliknoe.

In Sorong, West Papua police detained four student activists — Herman Sabo Yosep Laurensius Syufi, Manase Baho, Eteus Paulus and Miwak Karet — for making and distributing Morning Star flags.

Most of those awaiting trial have been charged with treason under Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail — which can be doubled if convicted for mobilising others to commit treason.

The government has also accused Veronica Koman — an Indonesian human rights lawyer who tweeted videos and photographs of the Surabaya incident and subsequent unrest — of "inciting" the riots. Koman is residing in Australia and police are seeking Australian government assistance to force her to return to face trial.

This is not the first time Anta has been afforded "special" treatment. Following their arrest, the Jakarta six were held at the Mobile Brigade Headquarters detention centre in Depok while police completed the investigation dossiers.

Legal advocates who visited Anta told reporters that he was being held in an isolation cell with no windows, one small air vent and bombarded with patriotic music 24 hours a day. This led to Anta developing an inner ear infection, which was only treated after lawyers publicly protested his treatment.

Lawyers from the Papua Advocacy Team representing the six submitted a pre-trial suit with the South Jakarta District Court on October 22, challenging the legality of the arrests and raids.

The lawyers argue that they were carried out without warrants, were not witnessed by local community authorities and should have been preceded with a police summons for questioning — all of which is required under Indonesia’s Criminal Procedural Code.

Police failed to appear at the first pre-trial hearing on November 11, resulting in a two-week postponement. Anta and the other five suspects were handed over to the Jakarta State Prosecutors office on November 18 to await trial in Cipinang prison. Lawyers accused the police of trying to avoid the pre-trial process and using the delay to rush through the investigation process.

When police did eventually turn up at a hearing on November 4, the court heard that warrants were presented the day after they were detained, local authorities were not present during the arrests and one witness related how in a raid on a Papuan student dormitory police made racist slurs calling Papuans "orangutans", stole personal belongings and pointed a gun at one of the residents. The sole judge hearing the case will hand down a verdict on December 10.

In a statement on November 18, Human Rights Watch called on Indonesian authorities to drop the treason charges and release at least 22 activists detained since August for peaceful acts of free expression concerning Papua. The group said these abusive prosecutions show backtracking by President Joko Widodo’s government in dealing with human rights in West Papua and Papua.

Police in the Papua capital of Jayapura charged 20 more Papuan activists with treason on December 2 . The 20 are part of a group of 34 arrested two days earlier for planning to commemorate the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement, which is traditionally held on December 1.

The latest batch of indictments brings the number of people awaiting trial for treason to at least 42.

[For the latest news and information on Indonesia and West Papua visit Indoleft and the Asia Pacific Solidarity Network's Indonesia
and East Timor News Digest
.]


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Witness describes violence, racist slurs during arrest of Papua students

December 5, 2019

Witness describes violence, racist slurs during arrest of Papua students

CNN Indonesia – December 4, 2019

Jakarta — A Papuan activists has testified that the police acted violently and made racist remarks during a raid on a Papuan student dormitory in Jakarta. This was revealed by Naliana Gwijangge during a pretrial hearing in a case of alleged treason against six students and Papuan activists.

Gwijangge said that she personally suffered this treatment when police were carrying out the arrests at a Papua student dormitory in the Tebet area of South Jakarta.

"A polwan [female police officer] at the front gate said ‘They’re all orangutans’, but from there I didn’t know they wore uniforms. I got up slowly", said Gwijangge during her testimony at the South Jakarta District Court on Wednesday December 4.

She related that initially she was at a minimarket near the dormitory along with Norince Kogoya and Arina Lokbere, one of the six suspects charged with treason.

Gwijangge said that they were arrested in front of the minimarket. Because she was afraid, she decided to run towards the dormitory while her two companions were arrested by the police.

Gwijangge claimed that she did not know the reason for the arrests. When she arrived at the dormitory, police attempted to take her to the Metro Jaya regional police headquarters in a car.

At the time she was only wearing a singlet and asked to be able to change her cloths first, but she was not given the opportunity to do this because the police then dragged her into the car.

"I wanted to change my cloths, but was ordered to get into [the car", she testified. "So when it was pulled out, I was still struggling", she added.

The allegations of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) were made following a rally in front of the State Palace on August 28 in which the Morning Star independence flag was flown.

Police then arrested six people one after the other on August 30 and 31. They were then declared suspects on charges of makar. (mjo/eks)

Notes

According to a report by Kompas.com on the same day, Gwijangge also testified that police make racist remarks inside the dormitory as she was pleading with them to change her cloths. See: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2019/12/04/22371971/saksi-ungkap-perlakuan-rasis-polisi-saat-tangkap-mahasiswa-papua.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Sidang Dugaaan Makar, Saksi Sebut Dikatai Orang Hutan".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20191205031613-12-454278/sidang-dugaaan-makar-saksi-sebut-dikatai-orang-hutan
Police break up Papuan student rally in Ambon calling for referendum

Kompas.com – December 1, 2019

Rahmat Rahman Patty, Ambon — A protest action by scores of Papuan students calling themselves the Struggle Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in front of the World Peace gong in Ambon City, Maluku, on Sunday December 1.

The protest action was being held to commemorate the anniversary of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) which was deemed by police to be an illegal gathering because it was held on a holiday and no prior notification was given to police.

Before the rally was broken up, the students were involved in an argument with police. The war of words broke out after police confiscated a megaphone from the students and then removed the batteries.

Nevertheless, both the police and the students were able to stand their ground so the chaos at the end of anarchic protests would not happen.

During the action, the students demanded that the West Papuan people be given the right to self-determination through a referendum.

The students also expressed their support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) becoming a full member of the Melanesia Spearhead Group, the Pacific Island Forum and for the ULMWP’s membership at the United Nations.

"We also ask that the scores of political prisoners from Papua be released and we also ask that all military and non-military troops be withdrawn from the land of Papua", said the students.

In their demands, the students also slammed alleged human rights violations in Papua committed by the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (Indonesian police).

The students also asked for guarantees of freedom of information, expression and assembly for the Papuan people.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Tuntut Referendum, Aksi Mahasiswa Papua di Ambon Dibubarkan Polisi".]

Source: https://regional.kompas.com/read/2019/12/01/17020381/tuntut-referendum-aksi-mahasiswa-papua-di-ambon-dibubarkan-polisi

Indonesia: Papua Flag Raisers Named as Treason Suspects

December 4, 2019

https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/indonesian/Papua-treason-arrests-12042019133102.html

Indonesia: Papua Flag Raisers Named as Treason Suspects

People flee as a local market burns during an anti-Jakarta protest in Fakfak, a town in Indonesia’s West Papua province, Aug. 21, 2019. AP

Victor Mambor Jayapura, Indonesia 2019-12-04

At least thirty-eight people in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces were named treason suspects over the last week in connection with attempts to raise the Papuan flag, police and lawyers told BenarNews.

Dozens more were arrested and questioned as security forces moved to prevent flag-raisings on Dec. 1, which some Papuans consider their national day.

Raising the Papuan flag is illegal in Indonesia, where tensions are high in Papua following violent demonstrations earlier this year and escalating demands for a referendum on independence for the region.

Twenty people arrested Saturday in Sentani, an area near the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura, are expected to be charged with treason, Yohanis Mambrasar, a lawyer with the Papua Human Rights Advocates Association (PAHAM), confirmed to BenarNews.

“That’s right. Twenty people have been named treason suspects. They will be charged under Article 106, in conjunction with Article 87, and Article 110 in conjunction with Article 88 of the Criminal Code,” he said.

Of these, six also will be charged with possessing weapons and one will face charges of incitement, said Victor Makbon, the police chief in Jayapura.

The 20 suspects and 14 others who were questioned and released came to Jayapura from other parts of the province to attend a flag-raising, Mambrasar said.

Seven people arrested in Manokwari, a coastal town in West Papua province, were being held for questioning after being picked up on Nov. 27, a local police official said.

“They are still under police custody at Manokwari Police Headquarters, while investigators are still looking for a man with the initials A.N.” who allegedly incited them to hold a protest, said Musa J. Permana, who heads the Crime and Research Unit at the regency’s police department. Police would release more information about the case soon, he added.

However, Yan Warinussi, a lawyer from the Legal Aid Research, Study and Development Institute (LP3BH) said police had named seven of the eight people detained in Manokwari as suspects.

Meanwhile, West Papua Police Chief Brig. Gen. Herry Rudolf Nahak said police had arrested 11 people and charged them with treason after a flag-raising ceremony on Dec. 1 at Puncak Malanu, in Sorong, another coastal town in West Papua province.

Arrests also took place in Fakfak, on the southern coast of West Papua, including dozens who allegedly attempted to raise a flag at the official residence of the regent, the top local official. Twenty of these people allegedly had cards stating they were members of the West Papuan National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

Fakfak police chief Ary Nyoto Setiawan said 23 people had raised Papua’s Morning Star flag in Warpa Kayuni village.

“About 20 will be named treason suspects,” he said.

Two leaders of the United Liberation for West Papua were questioned by police in Jayapura over an appeal to worship to commemorate Dec. 1, the date Papuans declared independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1961.

Four men arrested during worship at Gembala Baik Church in the largely Christian province were released without charges early Monday after questioning, according to LBH Papua, the Papua Branch of Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation. The pastor of the church, James Kossay, was also questioned by police and released.

Police previously charged six activists with treason for flying the banned flag during a rally demanding a referendum on self-determination in Jakarta late August.

In addition, they are seeking the arrest of Australian-based Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman. She is accused of spreading misinformation through her social-media posts about police treatment of the Papuan students in Surabaya.

A low-level separatist conflict has unfolded since the 1960s in Papua. The region declared its independence from Dutch colonial rule on Dec. 1, 1961. But that was rejected by the Netherlands and later by Indonesia.

In 1963, Indonesian forces invaded the region and annexed it.

Six years later, the region held a referendum in which security forces selected slightly more than 1,000 people to agree to Papua’s formal absorption into the nation, according to human rights advocacy groups.


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