West Papuan guilty of "provocation' jailed for three years

West Papuan guilty of “provocation’ jailed for three years

The Southeast Asian Times

West Papuan Bucthar Tabuni has been jailed for three years for “provocation” after three judges found him not guilty of treason during a pro-independence rally in Jayapura last October.

From News Reports:

Jayapura, July 5: Three judges of the Jayapura District Court have sent West Papuan Bucthar Tabuni to jail for three years for “provocation” during a pro-independence rally in Jayapura in October last year.

Prosecutors had argued the International Parliamentarians for West Papua chairman was guilty of treason during the rally and demanded he serve ten years in jail.

But the judges ruled that the West Papuan was not guilty of treason in accordance with Article 106 of the Criminal Code, because the rally had been “peaceful.”

“The action taken by the defendant was still within the limits of expressing demands over development progress in Papua,” The Jakarta Post quoted presiding judge Manungku Prasetyo as saying.

“It was peaceful, not brutal and not structured,” he said delivering the verdict at the end of the five-month trial.

Buchtar Tabuni was arrested in Jayapura as the alleged organiser of a rally to support the launch of International Parliamentarians for West Papua, London, but the judges found that it had not been proven that the rally was linked to it.

“So we have decided the case did not fulfil an element of treason,” the presiding judge said.

Instead, they found him guilty of the secondary charge of “provocation” as defined in Article 160 of the Criminal Code.

Evidence showed that during the rally Buchtar Tabuni had called out the word “autonomy!” to which his supporters had replied “no!” and “referendum!” to which they had answered “yes!”

“Such words can harm the sense of national unity and the unitary state of Indonesia, hamper development, defy laws and disturb peace among the heterogeneous peoples of Papua,” the judge said.

Appeal considered

Buchtar Tabuni’s lawyer Piter Ell said that no one accused of treason in West Papua had been acquitted, his client still might appeal.

He was not guilty of provocation, because the rally had been staged peacefully, he said.

“If judges convicted him of provocation, they should also have proven who was affected by his provocation,” the lawyer said.

Hundreds of West Papuans attended the rally and Buchtar Tabuni was arrested in December.

West Papuan Sebby Sambom is still on trial following his attendance at the rally.

Earlier this month, members of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation called for peaceful dialogue with Indonesia as the only viable way to settle the conflict in the Indonesian province.

The members made their call after a five-day coalition-sponsored workshop in Vanimo, the capital of Papua New Guinea’s north-westernmost province, Sandaun.

The workshop followed their summit held in Vanuatu in April 2008.

The coalition again asked the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum to grant West Papua observer status at their forthcoming meeting.

The secretary of the Sydney-based Australia West Papua Association, Joe Collins, has written to members of the Pacific Islands Forum asking them to discuss what he says is deteriorating situation in West Papua when they meet in Cairns next year. The people of West Papua are facing increasing intimidation from Indonesian soldiers and police, the letter says.

The letter quotes Amnesty International’s State of the world's human rights report, 2009, as saying that in West Papua: “Local community leaders were intimidated and threatened by the military and police.

“There were reports of torture and other ill- treatment, excessive use of force and extrajudicial executions by security forces.”