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Indonesia: Respect Rights of Papuan Prisoners

Indonesia: Respect Rights of Papuan Prisoners Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni

The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) and the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) urge the Indonesian Government to respect the rights of and end the persecution of internationally recognized prisoners of conscience Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni who were transferred from Abepura Prison to Jayapura Police Headquarters on December 3.

ETAN and WPAT also urge the U.S. government to use its considerable influence with the Indonesian government and police, deriving in part from its extensive assistance to and training of the police, to ensure that persecution of these prisoners of conscience ceases.

The transfer of Karma, Tabuni and several other prisoners to the police headquarters followed a riot at the prison which in turn was prompted by the killing of one of five prisoners who had escaped the previous day. The authorities are accusing the two activists of inciting the riot. However, reliable reports says that Karma and Tabuni had sought to calm the situation at the prison.

Karma is serving a 15-year sentence for raising a Papuan flag in 2004, while Buchtar Tabuni is serving a three-year sentence after supporting the launch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in October 2008.

Since their transfer to the police headquarters Karma and Tabuni reportedly have had very limited contact with their families and no contact with legal counsel. Karma has launched a hunger strike in support of his demand for proper treatment for himself, Tabuni and the other transferred prisoners, including access to adequate food or drink.

ETAN and WPAT note that Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires that "All persons who are deprived of their freedom must be treated humanely and with respect for their dignity as human beings." ETAN and WPAT also note that under Indonesian regulations Karma and Tabuni are entitled to correspond with and receive visits from their families, legal counsel and others.

ETAN and WPAT are also deeply concerned that the Indonesian authorities may seek to pursue charges against Karma and Tabuni related to the prison riot. Such a course would be particularly ironic insofar as the Indonesian authorities have failed to prosecute the security force personnel who were recorded torturing two Papuans in May 2010.

Observers in West Papua are concerned that the authorities may transfer Karma and Tabuni to the infamous Nusakembangan prison in Java, where violent criminals are incarcerated. As nonviolent prisoners of conscience, Karma and Tabuni would be at risk. Such a transfer would also make it much more difficult for their families and counsel to monitor their welfare. ETAN and WPAT strongly urge that Karma and Tabuni not be transferred out of West Papua.

ENDS

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