Papuan prisoner amnesty more effective if accompanied by dialogue

Papuan prisoner amnesty more effective if accompanied by dialogue
Kompas - May 19, 2010

Jakarta -- The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) supports the idea
of amnesties for political prisoners with a specific criterion from Papua. Such
a step would be even more effective in creating a safer and more peaceful
situation if accompanied by intensive dialogue with the Papuan community.

"The main problem in Papua is the high level of injustice. The irony is that the
Papuan community's demands for justice are frequently responded with accusations of subversion. Yet it is not always like that," said Komnas HAM Commissioner
Ridha Saleh in Jakarta on Monday May 17.

During a recent visit to Papua, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis
Akbar promised to propose to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that certain
political prisoners in Papua be given amnesty. This is because it is beloved
that the some of the political prisoners in their movements may never have
thought about Papua breaking away from Indonesia but only wanted to convey their wishes for improved development in Papua.

Saleh believes that that Patrialis' proposal should be supported. "Often there
are those who are jailed for years and years because they have been declared to
have committed subversion. Yet, what they did was perhaps just hold a peaceful
protest action demanding transparency in the use of special autonomy funds", he

A similar view was expressed by Yorris Raweyai, a member of the House of
Representatives from Papua. "The central government has to better understand the situation in Papua if it wants the region to improve. Don't just look at views
expressed outside of the Papuan community," he said.

This is because in simply looking at the views expressed from outside, continued
Raweyai, there have been state civil servants in Papua who have been sentenced
on charges of committing subversion because they raised the Morning Star flag.
Yet perhaps these people had never thought of wanting to commit subversion.

In December 2000, former President Abdurrahman Wahid declared that the Morning Star flag was a Papuan cultural symbol. (NWO)

[Translated by James Balowski.]