President Jokowi’s visit to West Papua was unproductive
Statement by the Executive-Director of the LP3BH on 22 May 2015
The recent visit by President Jokowi to the Land of Papua when he
visited the Province of Papua and the Province of West Papua can be
described as being unproductive or meaningless.
This is so because, although the President took a good step by
granting clemency to five political prisoners who were being held at
Abepura Prison, after his visit the security forces continued to
arrest activists who were taking action for the political rights of
the Papuan people here in the Land of Papua.
As has already been reported, four political activists from the
KNPB (National Committee of West Papua) were arrested on 21 May and
will be held in custody until 9 June this year by Sub Den 3 Den
Pelopor C. Manokwari of the Regional Police in West Papua.
They were arrested on the charge that they took an act of
Incitement to Break the Law on 20 May this year at 10am in front of
the Unipa campus, in Manokwari, according to Article 160 jo Article 55
of the Criminal Code.
In my opinion, as the Executive-Director of the LP3BH Manokwari,
this action was in violation of basic human rights , specifically the
right to freedom of expression and freedom of opinion of the Papuan
people as stipulated in Law 12/2005 on the Ratification of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
According to the right to democracy there should be good
communications between activists on the one hand and the security
forces and the local government people which means that people should
not be arrested as is happening so frequently, and moreover with
people being tortured or maltreated as was experienced by the people
who held a demonstration on 20 May.
Moreover, President Jokowi recently declared that foreign
journalists would be allowed access to visit all parts of West Papua.
However, this decision was not made absolutely clear in writing for
the security forces to act accordingly. This means that the good
things done by the President in fact become unproductive, as is
obvious from the situation recently confronted by KNPB activists in
Manokwari, Sorong, Biak, Fakfak, Nabire, Merauke, Wamena and Jayapura.
The arrest and taking into custody of a number of KNPB activists is
an important sign showing the international community that freedom of
expression and freedom of opinion is always being blocked whenever
Papuan people take a position in opposition to the Government of the
Republic of Indonesia, which means that their political opinions are
These actions to block the freedoms of expression and opinion are
always accompanied by destructive actions by the security forces and
the police who treat all this as being criminal and as acts of
subversion (see Article 110 of the Criminal Code.
President Jokowi should take firm action at the very least by
issuing a Presidential Decision regarding the granting of clemency or
amnesty or abolition for people struggling for their political rights,
instead of people becoming ‘tapols’ according to the police while
saying that there is freedom of access for foreign journalists to
enter West Papua and report on the situation there.
If all declarations made by President Jokowi were made absolutely
firm as lawful regulations, it would ensure that there would be real
implementation which could then be followed up by the security forces,
in particular the Indonesian Police and the TNI (Indonesian Army),
which would be properly recognised by the Papuan people and the
Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive-Director of LP3BH
[Translated by Carmel Budiadjo]