Eleven Papuans sentenced for subversion in Manokwari

Eleven Papuans sentenced for subversion in Manokwari

Eleven Papuans have been found guilty of subversion (makar) and sentenced to terms of three and three-and-a-half years by the district court in Manokwari. The verdicts were announced on 8 January 2009.

One of the Papuans, Jack Wanggai was sentenced to three-and-a-half years while the other ten were sentenced to three years.

The men were arrested in March last year in connection with two incidents which took place on 3 March and on 13 March and have been in detention since then.

According to a report from Jan Christian Warinussy of the Manokwari-based legal aid institute, LP3BH, received today, the severity of the sentences came as a huge surprise.

The panel of judges led by Elsa Mutiara Napitupulu said that the men had posed a threat to the integrity of the Indonesian state in seeking the separation of West Papua. The judgement said that there had been an increase in separatist activities in the recent past throughout the whole of West Papua which were being organised from abroad. It was therefore necessary to ensure strict enforcement of the law so as to halt such activities from spreading and to ensure that no more victims would fall.

She also said that activities such as had been undertaken by the accused were disrupting the work of development which should be supported by the whole of society, bearing in mind the efforts currently being undertaken in accordance with the Special Autonomy Law to bring development to the remote villages and kampungs. Were such activities to be allowed to continue, she went on, it would damage the consolidation of the ethnic culture of the Papuan people. It was therefore necessary for the court to deal with these matters by passing the heaviest possible sentences on the accused.

In their message, the legal counsel of the convicted Papuans said that these considerations were in contradiction with the social-political and social-cultural situation in West Papua and specifically in Manokwari.

An appeal against the sentence will be filed on 9 January.