Update on the Trial of Buchtar Tabuni in Jayapura

Update on the Trial of Buchtar Tabuni in Jayapura

The following is based on a report in Papua Pos on 26 February 2009

The second hearing in the trial of Buchtar Tabuni took place on 25 February at the District Court in Jayapura.

The lawyers defending the defendant presented their response (eksepsi) to the charges filed against the defendant at the first hearing on 18 February. On that occasion, Buchtar was charged under Article 106 of the Criminal Code for subversion (makar), relating to his activities as the coordinator of a demonstration in Jayapura which supported the establishment of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London on 15 October 2009.

While the hearing was in progress, hundreds of Papuans demonstrated outside the court calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Inside the court, Buchtar's lawyers, Iwan Miode SH and Rahman Ramli SH said that the charges filed at the previous hearing were unclear. As examples of the lack of clarity, they drew attention to the allegation that the defendant was a person without any education, whereas in fact he had graduated from a university in Jayapura. They also accused the prosecutors of misusing the word 'Free' which they interpreted as meaning 'free from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.'. Whereas the word 'free' has a huge significance, such as for example freedom from hunger, freedom from poverty, freedom from ignorance and not living in a state of backwardness.

[According to Indonesian court procedures, an eksepsi is presented on behalf of the defendant in order to argue that the trial should not proceed. It is not intended as a comprehensive defence of the defendant.]

At the end of the hearing which lasted only half an hour, it was announced that the next hearing would take place on 4 March when the prosecutor would respond to the eksepsi of the defence counsel.

The crowd outside the courthouse carried banners calling for the immediate release of Buchtar and denounced the use of the word 'makar' which is being used in all cases when Papuan people give expression to their aspirations. During speeches delivered to the protesters, it was stated that the police in Papua had mounted a case against Buchtar Tabuni in order to distract attention from the shooting to death of Opius Tabuni last August. [There has been no move as yet to identify the person believed to have been responsible for the death of Opius Tabuni.] It was, they said, also a move to obliterate freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.for Papuan people in the land of their birth.

They called for an end to all forms of legal intimidation by constantly accusing Papuans of being subversive (makar), of being separatists and a variety of charges for allegedly being against humanitarianism. The demonstrators also called for the release of Seby S Sembon although it is not clear from the press reporting whether Seby is also on trial with Buchtar Tabuni,

The demonstration proceeded peacefully and the participants disbanded after the end of the court hearing.