West Papua: The Jayapura Five
Indonesia Human Rights Committee,
17 March, 2012
Media Release: Jayapura 5 face prison for peaceful assembly on October 19, 2011, but those responsible for violence go free.
IHRC is shocked that a West Papua court has decided to imprison five West Papuan leaders for their role in organising an entirely peaceful national Congress.
It is outrageous that respected Papuan tribal and community leaders are facing jail. Expressing a wish for independence is not ‘treason’. Meanwhile the police who opened live fire to break up the meeting, and killed at least 3 persons go free.
IHRC has written to Foreign Minister McCully to urge him to speak out against this outrage.
Hon Murray McCully,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
17 March, 2012
Dear Mr McCully,
We to urge that New Zealand speak out against the imprisonment in West Papua of five peaceful activists: Selfius Bobii, Agus Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut, Edison Waromi, and Forkorus Yoboisembut, who were organisers of the third Papua People Congress in October last year . As you know, this peaceful event was broken up with great violence by the Indonesian police. When the police opened live fire on the participants at least 3 people were killed.
Since then some 17 police personnel have received ‘administrative sanctions’ but no one was held accountable for the deaths, for the unprovoked violence which caused injuries to at least 90 people or for the arbitrary arrest of some 300 people.
We believe that the decision to convict and imprison these men for their involvement in an entirely peaceful event decision flies in the face of Indonesia’s professed commitment to international human rights norms. Declaring a wish or commitment to freedom and independence is not ‘treason’.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the right of all individuals to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful assembly and association. Indonesia is a signatory to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and Indonesia’s constitution also protects these rights. Amnesty International has declared the five activists are prisoners of conscience and has also called for their unconditional and immediate release.
Human rights groups have expressed grave doubts about the fairness of the trial proceedings, particularly as armed members of the security forces maintained a heavy presence during the trial sessions. It has also been reported that the judges were visited by senior military, police and government officials just one hour before the trial began.
In your last letter to our organisation you told us that New Zealand diplomatic representatives ‘continue to monitor events in West Papua including this trial.’ So you will be aware that the five men were convicted of treason under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, which is regularly used against political activists and those who brave the repressive conditions to voice their aspirations for self-determination. It is understood that at least 27 other people are currently imprisoned under the draconian ‘treason’ law.
New Zealand has a right and a duty to speak out against this travesty of justice, and we look forward to hearing details of the New Zealand Government’s response.
(for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee)