Demonstrators in Papua call for release of Buchtar Tabuni

Demonstrators in Papua call for release of Buchtar Tabuni and Sebby Sembom

Cenderawasih Pos, Abridged in translation

A demonstration took place in Abepura and outside the district court in Jayapura on Wednesday calling on the court to review the sentences passed against Buchtar Tabuni and Sebby Sembom (both serving prison terms for demonstrating in support of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua set up in London last October).

As they marched from the post office in Abepura, they called on passers-by to join them in demonstrating peacefully. Although at this point they were few in number, they were guarded by police.

As their numbers grew, they marched towards the district court in Jayapura, but as they approached the court, they were prevented from entering the building. After talks with the police, they eventually agreed to the police insistence that they could not enter the court and were provided with a police truck to drive them to the high court.

Leader of the group Usman Dogome called on the government to open up democratic space and the rule of law in West Papua and urged the high court and the Indonesian government to review the sentences of the two men. 'We urge the government and the international communtiy to take action to resolve the human rights problems in West Papua by means of tri-lateral talks.'

On arriving at the high court, another leader in the group read out the demands of the demonstrators.

First, for the government and the international community to solve the West Papuan problem by means of dialogue. Second, to open up democratic space in West Papua. Third, for the court to review the convictions for rebellion of Tabuni and Sembom, and to release them.

Deputy head of the high court, Fransiskus Lopi expressed greetings to the demonstrators for voicing their concern about injustices. 'All such struggles,' he said, 'take time and patience.' He also said that the court only had the power to handle cases filed before it. What the demonstrators were calling for, he said, was a political matter and should be submitted to the government and the people's representatives.

But he promised to convey the information about their demands to the authorities.