Papua violence mars Indonesian elections

Papua violence mars Indonesian elections

TAPOL press release

At a time when the international media is focussing on today’s Indonesian elections, little attention had been paid to the deteriorating human rights situation in West
Papua. TAPOL is calling for an end to the violence and for the Papuans’ democratic rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly to be guaranteed.
Papuans have been arrested for attending mass
gatherings, and three men are to be charged with
subversion. Most alarming of all are police
shootings of demonstrators and raids on offices
of the Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan Customary
Council) involving notorious Brimob police special forces.


In campaigning for the elections, several
Indonesian political parties have held rallies
attended by tens of thousands of people in a
number of cities in West Papua. These rallies
have proceeded without interference.

But last week, Papua police chief, Drs Bagus
Edokanto, issued a warning against the staging of
mass meetings that were critical of the elections
and were calling for a boycott. He mentioned in
particular the National Alliance of the People of
West Papua (KANRPB) as likely to be ‘dealt with’ by the police.

Regardless of these threats, a few days ago
hundreds of people attended a rally in Nabire
convened by the National Committee of West Papua
(KNPB). Speakers at the rally expressed support
for a newly-established organisation, the
International Lawyers for West Papua. The police
opened fire on the rally and nine people were
injured, including a 10-year old boy. Fifteen
people attending the rally were arrested and
later subjected to ‘intense interrogation’
according to the local daily, Cenderawasih Pos.

The police had earlier raided the office of the
KNPB. Banners and Morning Star flags were
confiscated and the police alleged that they had discovered firearms.
On 3 April, according to a report by the Gereja
Kristen Injili (GKI - Evangelical Church),
several police units, including Brimob raided the
Dewan Adat Papua (DAP) office in Jayapura. During
the raid, a computer was destroyed after the hard
disk had been removed. A number of documents were
seized and other office equipment was trashed.
The police claim to have confiscated two firearms
from the office, accusing two women there of being the owners of the firearms.

According to the GKI, one of those arrested was
Dina Wandikbo. She described how she had been
held at gunpoint in the street by a man while on
her way from the DAP office to buy food. He told
her to return to the building and fetch a bag
lying under a table. Fearing for her life she did
so, but because the bag was heavy, she asked her
sister to help her carry it out. After leaving
the office, the two women were accosted by a
Brimob officer who threatened them at gunpoint
and told them to let go of the bag.

With their hands bound, the women were taken to
police headquarters along with 13 others from the
office and held overnight. They were later
released and ordered to report regularly to the
police. They were accused of possessing the
firearms that had been found in the DAP office.

Many arrests have been made at meetings and
rallies organised by West Papuan organisations.
While most have been released, three men are now
‘suspects’ and will face serious charges: Mako
Tabuni (also known as Musa Tabuni), Serafin Diaz, and Yance Motte.

The three men will face charges under Article 106
of the Penal Code of makar (subversion), for
which the maximum penalty is twenty years
imprisonment, and under Article 160 for
incitement. They are accused of pursing the aim
of separating part of the territory of Indonesia.

Police chief Bagus Ekodanto said the men had been
arrested for their involvement in a demonstration
at several locations in Abepura and outside the
provincial assembly building (DPRP) in Jayapura
on 10 March 2009. The men had reportedly called
for a referendum in West Papua and urged Papuans
not to vote in the forthcoming elections.

TAPOL is deeply concerned at these developments,
which represent serious violations of the rights
to freedom of expression, association and
assembly. The raid on the offices of the DAP,
along with the accusations of firearms offences,
is a clear attempt to undermine the DAP’s
long-proclaimed commitment to the ‘Papua Land of Peace’ initiative.
TAPOL calls for:

The Papuan people to be guaranteed their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. The immediate and unconditional release of Mako Tabuni, Serafin Diaz, Yonce Motte and any other Papuans who have been arrested for attending peaceful rallies or meeting. The Indonesian authorities in West Papua to apologise to the Dewan Adat Papua for raiding its office, to compensate the organisation for the damage caused to its premises, and to allow it to function without interference. The police to lift the restrictions imposed on Dina Wandikbo and her sister.

The repeal of the 2007 presidential regulation that makes it illegal for Papuans to unfurl the Morning Star flag. The chief of police to lift his restrictions on the right of Papuan organisations to organise meetings and rallies.