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Urgent Appeal: freedom of expression in Papua

urgent appeal submitted to the un special rapporteur on freedom of expression regarding the killings, arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protestors in papua between 30 april and 13 may 2013. the appeal highlights arbitrary detentions and risk of torture, and called on the special rapporteur to urgently raise the problems with the government of indonesia.
23 May 2013

Urgent Appeal to Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression

Indonesia: Killings, arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protestors in Papua

 

We are writing to you on behalf of TAPOL, International Coalition for Papua, Survival International, Franciscans International, West Papua Advocacy Team, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, West Papua Action Auckland, Australia West Papua Association (Sydney), Peace Movement Aorearoa, Pacific Media Centre and Pacific Scoop in relation to the killings, arrests and excessive use of force against peaceful protestors in Papua during 30 April–13 May 2013, which violated the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

On 1 May 2013, Papuans commemorated the 50th anniversary of the administrative transfer of Papua to Indonesia. Peaceful demonstrations went ahead despite a ban issued by Indonesian authorities,[1] in contravention of the right to free expression and assembly. Police opened fire on demonstrators, killing three, seriously injuring others and arresting leaders. When civil society groups gathered on 13 May to peacefully demand accountability, more arrests were made. At least 30 demonstrators were arbitrarily arrested in Timika, Sorong, Biak, Abepura and Jayapura (see Appendix).

The killings and arrests represent a serious deterioration in the environment for free expression and assembly in the Papua region. 1 May is commemorated every year in Papua, however during last year’s events the police reaction, though repressive, was far less violent. Around 13 people were arrested for their participation in the raising of the Papuan Morning Star flag during a demonstration on 1 May 2012.[2] 11 were released without charge, whereas Darius Kogoya and Timur Wakerkwa were convicted of treason and are still serving prison sentences.[3]

We, the undersigned organisations, are seriously concerned at this deterioration in the situation in Papua, and we urge you to raise the situation with the government of Indonesia and press for the release of all those arrested for peacefully expressing their opinions (see Appendix 1).  We support the statement of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay who condemned the ongoing suppression of the right to freedom of expression and the use of excessive force in Papua by the Government of Indonesia.[4]

We further request that you enter into dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, the Special Rapporteur on torture, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the matter.

 

Facts of the case

On 30 April, at around 17:00 East Indonesia time, community members of Aimas district in Sorong gathered at the house of Isak Klaibin, where they planned to commemorate the 1 May anniversary. Credible reports from human rights sources state that military and police forces in four vehicles arrived a few hours later and surrounded the house. The security forces proceeded to fire several warning shots, which agitated the demonstrators who then proceeded towards the vehicles.[5] When this happened, the security forces fired into the crowd for twenty minutes, causing the deaths of two activists, Apner Malagawak and Thomas Blesia.[6]  Salomina Klaibin, the sister of Isak Klaibin, was shot in the stomach and shoulder and died in hospital a few days later. At least two other demonstrators were injured, with one reportedly in a critical condition. At least seven activists have been arrested following this incident and charged with treason.[7] Yan Christian Warinussy, Director of the Institute of Research, Analysis and Development for Legal Aid (LP3BH) which is accompanying the seven activists has stated that the police have attempted to hinder their access to legal counsel, citing Article 115 of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code, which states that while lawyers may observe the interrogation of treason suspects, they may not actually hear what is being said. According to Warinussy, police do not normally invoke this Article in such cases.

In Timika on 1 May a group of indigenous Papuans conducted a ceremony at which the Morning Star flag was raised. The flag is a symbol of Papuan identity which is allowed under the Special Autonomy Law governing the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, but forbidden under government regulation 77/2007. The flag-raising resulted in the arrests of 16 people who are currently at risk of torture,[8] with reports that ten of the detainees face treason charges.[9] Five demonstrators were reportedly injured when police opened fire during the flag-raising ceremony.[10]

In Biak, a similar flag-raising event led to the arrests of at least six activists, with reports of at least one person hurt when police opened fire into the crowd of 50 people who had gathered at the ceremony commemorating 1 May.[11]

In Abepura, the West Papua National Committee (Komisi Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) leader for Sorong district, Martinus Yohami, was arrested on 1 May while giving a speech during a peaceful demonstration.[12] It is not known what he is being charged with.

Markus Yenu, a human rights activists and a leader of the West Papua National Authority (WPNA) in Manokwari, has been consistently targeted for his involvement in political activities and leading demonstrations. On 1 May, police moved to arrest him during a commemorative march in Jayapura, but protestors positioned themselves between Yenu and the police, allowing him to disappear into the crowd.[13] It is believed that he is now in hiding. 

On 8 May, another ban on public demonstrations was issued when a coalition of human rights groups and civil society organisations announced their intention to carry out cross-Papua demonstrations on 13 May demanding accountability from the government following the deaths, arrests and injuries of peaceful activists during the events commemorating 1 May.[14]

On 13 May, protestors gathered outside the Cenderawasih University in preparation to march. The authorities responded by arresting KNPB leader Victor Yeimo and three other activists; Yongky Ulimpa, Ely Kobak and Marten Manggaprouw, when Yeimo attempted to negotiate with the police to allow the march to proceed. Cenderawasih University student Markus Giban was arrested and has suffered a broken arm from being reportedly tortured by Jayapura police.[15] Three of the activists have reportedly been released however Yeimo has been transferred to Abepura prison, allegedly in relation to a previous case.[16] There have also been reports that following the arrests of the four activists, police used excessive force against the crowd of demonstrators, severely beating them and destroying several motorcycles during an attempt to disperse the protestors.[17] Local activists also report that since this event, police have been clamping down on civilians in Sentani, Abepura and Jayapura city, mobilising tanks and police vehicles, and are said to be carrying teargas equipment[18] and water cannons.[19]

 

Arbitrary arrest and detention

Of the 30 demonstrators arrested, three have reportedly been released. 22 have reportedly been charged with treason, and Victor Yeimo has been transferred to Abepura prison to continue serving a previous sentence under Article 106 (despite a previous opportunity to follow this up, upon which the police chose not to act).[20] The current status of the remaining 7 is still unconfirmed. See Appendix 1.

 

Risk of torture

People arrested for political activity and protest in Papua are frequently tortured. During 2012 at least 28 political arrests reportedly involved torture, with victims variously blindfolded, beaten, gagged, threatened with death, and subjected to electric shocks.[21] Many of the cases of torture happen when the detainee is in police detention during interrogation and trial.

 

Indonesia’s human rights abuses disregard its legal obligations

The measures taken by the Indonesian authorities during these two weeks in May are clear violations of the fundamental rights to free expression and assembly. These violations are contrary to the guarantees enshrined in the Indonesian Constitution, as well as in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia has acceded.

 

Petition

We are extremely concerned for the safety and liberty of the detainees listed in the Appendix, in particular those detained in connection with a peaceful gathering in Aimas, Sorong. The arrest of protestors for peaceful political activity contravenes the fundamental right to free expression and these arrests are therefore arbitrary. We consider these detainees to be at risk of torture. We would therefore request that you raise the matter with the Indonesian government as a matter of urgency. 

 

Yours sincerely

Paul Barber

Coordinator, TAPOL

 

International Coalition for Papua

West Papua Advocacy Team

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network

West Papua Action Auckland

Franciscans International

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)

Survival International

Peace Movement Aorearoa

Pacific Media Centre

Pacific Scoop

 

cc.            Mr Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and association

                Ms Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

                Mr Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment

                The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Appendix 1

 

Name

Date of arrest

Reported charges

Case

Detained in

Isak Klaibin

30 April 2013

Treason

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Klemens Kodimko

30 April 2013

106, 107, 108, 110, 160, 164

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Obeth Kamesrar

30 April 2013

106, 107, 108, 110, 160, 164

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Antonius Safuf

30 April 2013

106, 107, 108, 110, 160, 164

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Obaja Kamesrar

30 April 2013

106, 107, 108, 110, 160, 164

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Yordan Magablo

30 April 2013

106, 107, 108, 110, 160, 164

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Hengky Mangamis

30 April 2013

106, 107, 108, 110, 160, 164

Peaceful gathering, Aimas

Sorong police detention

Domi  Mom

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Altinus Uamang

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Musa Elas

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Jhoni Niwilingame

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Hari Natal Magai

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Jhon Kum

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Semuil Deikme

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Miryam Stenamun

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Mon Deikme

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Aminus Hagabal

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Yakob Onawame

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Heri Onawame

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Biru Kogoya

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Beanal

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Alpon

1 May 2013

Treason

Flag-raising ceremony

Timika police detention

Unknown

1 May 2013

Unknown

Flag-raising ceremony

Biak

Unknown

1 May 2013

Unknown

Flag-raising ceremony

Biak

Unknown

1 May 2013

Unknown

Flag-raising ceremony

Biak

Unknown

1 May 2013

Unknown

Flag-raising ceremony

Biak

Unknown

1 May 2013

Unknown

Flag-raising ceremony

Biak

Unknown

1 May 2013

Unknown

Flag-raising ceremony

Biak

Martinus Yohani

1 May 2013

Unknown

Peaceful demonstration

Abepura (unclear, police detention or prison)

Victor Yeimo

13 May 2013

160 from a previous case in 2009

Negotiated with police to allow a peaceful demonstration

Abepura prison

 

Notes



[1]Gubernur dan Polda Papua Dinilai Langgar HAM,” Tabloid Jubi, 27 April 2013

[2]Peristiwa penangkapan 14 Warga Sipil,” KontraS, May 2012

[3]Papuan prisoner: Darius Kogoya,” Papuans Behind Bars

[5] “Recent Incidents in West Papua related to commemoration of 1 May,” report by Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Desk of Protestant Church in Tanah Papua (GKI-TP), 4 May 2013

[6]Aktivis Papua Kecam Penembakan Sorong,” Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua (ALDP), 5 May 2013

[7]Enam Tersangka Aimas Dituduh Melakukan Makar,” Suara Papua, 10 May 2013

[10] Ibid.

[11] Report from local human rights source received by e-mail entitled “Mom Salomina Klaibin demonstran 1 Mei 2013 di Sorong meninggal dunia,” 7 May 2013

[13]Deaths mark 50 years of West Papua occupation,” The Fiji Times, 8 May 2013

[15]Satu Anggota KNPB Disiksa Hingga Patah Tangan,” Suara Papua, 13 May 2013

[19]Aparat Bubarkan Paksa Massa Aksi, Ketua KNPB Ditangkap,” Majalah Selangkah, 13 May 2013

 

Type