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Protest at Supreme Court demands release of Papuan political prisoners

June 16, 2020 – June 15, 2020

Reza Gunadha and Yosea Arga Pramudita — Demonstrators from the
Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (Tapol) held a protest
action at the Aspiration Park and in front of the Supreme Court (MA) in
Central Jakarta on Monday June 15.

The actions were to demand justice for seven Papuan political prisoners
being tried on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) in
Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, over their involvement in anti-racism
protest in Jayapura city in September last year.

After demonstrating at Aspiration Park, the protesters moved off towards
the nearby Supreme Court building. During the march they maintained
health protocols in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The individual demonstrators maintained a safe distance and wore marks
and plastic gloves as measures to protect themselves from the corona

One of the action participants, Surya Anta Ginting, said that the
demonstration in the midst of the transition from large scale social
restrictions (PSBB) had to be held. This is because there is no other
way to call for justice for the Papuan political prisoners.

"The comrades have already submitted a written notification [with
police] and it was accepted. We are aware that this action is taking
place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. But what else can we do?",
said Surya Anta in front of the Supreme Court building.

"This is the means that we have to take to break through a dangerous
situation, because, what about the fate of our comrades? Facing
sentences of 5-17 years in prison. How could we just articulate this
through social media? Even speaking out through street actions the
government doesn’t want to listen. We had to make this political choice
[to protest] in front of the MA", he explained.

Surya Anta said that the heavy sentences being demanded for the seven
Papuan political prisoners is what spurred them to take to the streets.
It would be a different story if the seven political prisoners were
unconditionally released then the action at the Supreme Court would not
have been held.

"These sentences are what made us take action. If our friends are
released of course we would not have protested in front of the MA",
explained Surya Anta.

Speaking separately, Gambir Metro sectoral police chief Commissioner
Kadek Budiarta said that they had deployed around 200 joint personnel
from the police and the TNI (Indonesian military) to secure the action.

"There are around 200 personnel. Police and TNI. The TNI soldiers are
from koramil [sub-district military command] then at the MA there is one
SSK [company level unit}. Essentially we hope that the action will be
smooth and orderly and there will be no friction", said Budiarta at the

Budiarta added that they will also appeal to the protesters to apply
health protocols because the action is taking place during the PSBB
transition period.

"Later we'll ask them to maintain social distancing. Certainly the
spread of Covid-19 is most susceptible when there is a crowd and they
don't maintain social distance. They're still waiting for the korlap
[action coordinator], later we’ll convey this", he added.

The seven Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan are facing different
sentences. Former University of Cendrawasih Student Executive Council
(BEM) Chairperson Ferry Kombo and Jayapura University of Science and
Technology (USTJ) Student President Alex Gobay are facing 10-year
sentences while Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Urobmabin are facing
five-year sentences.

Meanwhile United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Legislative
Body Deputy Chairperson Buchtar Tabuni is facing a 17-year sentence
while Mimika West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairperson Steven
Itlay and KNPB General Chairperson Agus Kossay are facing 15-year

Over a series of hearings at the Balikpapan District Court between June
2-5 the public prosecutor has indicted all seven under Article 106 of
the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of
the KUHP on makar over their involvement in protest actions in Jayapura
city in August 2019 which were held to protest racism against Papuan
students in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya.

The seven Papuan political prisoners are being held at the Balikpapan
class II penitentiary on grounds of security. They have been undergoing
trial at the Balikpapan District Court since January.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was
"Solidaritas Pembebasan Papua Aksi di MA: Bebaskan 7 Tapol di


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