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Activists call for release of all West Papuan political prisoners

April 17, 2020

Suara Papua – April 4, 2020

Markus You, Nabire — It is hoped that a new policy by Justice and Human
Rights Minister (Menkumham) Yasonna Laoly to release thousands of
convicted criminals from prisons across Indonesia will not discriminate
against Papuan political prisoners (tapol) who are still incarcerated in
jail that were arrested in related to the wave of mass actions against
racism in August and September last year.

Natalius Pigai, a human rights defender and former National Human Rights
Commission (Komnas HAM) commissioner, asserted that this is because the
policy gives the impression of not being fair for hundreds of Papuan
students who a citizens of Indonesia.

Thousands of convicts will be released following the issuance of Justice
and Human Rights Ministerial Regulation Number 10/2020 and Justice and
Human Rights Ministerial Decision Number M.HH-19.PK/01.04.04 on the
terms and conditions of assimilation and integration of prisoners and
juvenile inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pigai believes that this policy is very appropriate bearing in mind the
fatal corona virus which is spreading throughout the world.

"We want this policy to apply justly for the hundreds of Papuan students
who are still in jail or undergoing trial", he told Suara Papua on
Saturday April 4.

The Papuan students and activists who have been detained in relation to
the protests against racism in Indonesia, said Pigai, are still being
tried amidst the threat of the corona virus.

"To this day all of the victims of racism in Indonesia which took place
in 2019 are still in jail, prisoners. The majority of them were charged
under the makar [treason, subversion, rebellion] articles, along with
emergency articles and the like. The legal process has been unjust,
discriminatory and racist. Meanwhile the perpetrators of this racism in
Surabaya [East Java] who received light sentences, have already been
release", he explained.

Pigai is urging the state to be fair in applying the early release
policy and free Papuan political prisoners and activist detained for
articulating Papua’s problems. "The state must release these Papuan
students and activists", he asserted.

Speaking separately, Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRP)
legislator Laurenzus Kadepa made a similar call for the policy to be
followed up by the related parties.

"With the regulation and decision by the Menkumham for the sake of
preventing the spread of the corona virus, the Papuan chief public
prosecutor and other related parties should immediately release the
Papuan prisoners who up until this day are still being held in prisons
in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Jakarta and everywhere else", said
Kadepa on Wednesday April 1.

Kadepa hopes that under the Minister of Justice policy related parties
will immediately follow up on this and release Papuan political
prisoners. "They should also be treated the same way like other
prisoners for the sake of preventing Covid-19 infections", he said.

Kadepa said that the central and regional governments, along with the
regional police and chief public prosecutor should be able to understand
the latest situation after Indonesia has been it by the Covid-19

"All of the Papua tapols involved in the anti-racist actions who are
undergoing legal proceedings must be protected from the dangers of
Covid-19. They should be repatriated immediately and if possible
released unconditionally", he said.

Earlier, Amnesty International Indonesia along with 29 other civil
society organisations urged the Indonesian government to clarify the
status of Papuan political prisoners in the midst of the Covid-19 threat
who appear to have been ignored under the Justice and Human Rights
Ministry’s policy of releasing 30,000 adult and juvenile prisoners.

Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said that
it is not yet clear under the new policy whether or not Papuan political
prisoners will also be released. According to Hamid, the policy does not
provide any certainty for Papuan political prisoners.

It is because of this that the central government is being urged to take
a fair position and not discriminate in the application of the policy.
Papuan political prisoners who have been charged with makar for
peacefully expressing their views both in Papua and outside of Papua
must be released from jail.

According to a press release received by Suara Papua, the prosecution of
these Papuan political prisoners is being pushed through. They are
entitled to their right to health so based on the aim of protecting
their health and a sense of justice, they should all be released

As of Friday April 3, at least 5,556 convicts have been released. The
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights estimates that as a result of this
policy decision at least 30,000 convicts will be released in total.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was
"Semua Tapol Papua Harus Dibebaskan".]


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