July 2015: Threats to human rights defenders in Papua on the rise

In brief

At the end of July 2015, there were at least 51 political prisoners in Papua.

Information received from the Central Papuan Highlands Coalition for Peace, Law and Human Rights (Koalisi untuk Kedamaian, Hukum dan HAM Pegunungan Tengah Papua) reported an increasing climate of intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders and lawyers in Wamena. Coalition members providing accompaniment to Roby Erik Pekey, a victim of arbitrary police violence in Wamena, have been subject to harassment due to their role in addressing impunity. An increased number of reports of intimidation faced by human rights defenders underscores the need for the state to take urgent measures to ensure their protection.

Reports from the Coalition describing how Jayawijaya police were able to freely mistreat Roby Pekey while he sought medical treatment in Wamena Hospital is yet another example of open police brutality in public spaces. In our April 2015 update, we recorded two other cases of victims who were arbitrarily detained, tortured and cruelly treated in hospitals.

In Tolikara on 17 July, a 16-year-old teenager was shot dead and at least 11 others injured when security forces shot into a crowd that were protesting the use of loudspeakers during an Eid al-Fitr prayer session. The shootings provoked the burning of several kiosks, which spread quickly to amusholla (a prayer room) where the prayers were taking place. While police were quick to secure the arrests of two men who were allegedly involved in the arson, perpetrators of the shootings from the security forces have so far not yet been identified or brought to account. Investigations into the incident are currently ongoing.

At least 40 members of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) were arrested for participating in a prayer session giving thanks to the outcome of the June summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Since May this year, 264 people have been arrested for expressing their support or being involved with the ULMWP. The targeting of ULMWP members and its supporters for arbitrary arrest demonstrates Indonesia’s zero-tolerance policy towards peaceful aspirations of West Papuan independence.

Arrests

40 arrested in Fakfak for organising prayer session; three charged with public order offences 

On 3 July 2015, at least 40 people were arrested for organising a prayer session in Fakfak. A group of people had gathered at the regional secretariat office of the ULMWP to give a prayer of thanks for the ULMWP being granted Observer status by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) during its June summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Three men remain in detention and face charges of public order offences under Article 510 of the Indonesian Criminal Code that punishes the staging of a public event without police permission. According to lawyers from the Institute for Research, Investigation and Development of Legal Aid, (LP3BH, Lembaga Penelitian, Pengkajian dan Pengembangan Bantuan Hukum), Apnel Hegemur, Roy Marten Mury and Daniel Hegemur were initially charged with conspiracy to commit rebellion under Articles 108 and 110, but these charges were later changed.

The three men are believed to be in detention at Fakfak Regional Police Station while awaiting trial.

Two men arrested for participating in demonstration against palm oil plantation company PT Permata Putera Mandiri

Human rights organization Pusaka reported that on 15 May 2015, two men were detained for their involvement in a demonstration against palm oil plantation company PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM). Obed Korie and Odie Aitago were arrested alongside several other demonstrators who were eventually released. The demonstrators, consisting of students and community members from the Iwaro tribe in South Sorong Regency, blocked PPM offices in protest against land grabbing, illegal logging and unfair compensation, amongst other concerns, by PT PPM.

Korie and Aitago were charged with violence towards persons or property under Article 170 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. On 14 July, they attended their first court hearing. Their trial is expected to continue in August.

Releases

There were no reported releases in July 2015.

Political trials and cases overview

Narko Murib rearrested

Information received from LP3BH lawyers reported that on 3 July, Narko Murib, one of four men detained in May for participating in a demonstration, was rearrested more than two weeks after his escape from police Mobile Brigade (Brigade Mobil, Brimob) headquarters in Manokwari.

A detention warrant issued by Manokwari police states that Murib will be held at the Brimob headquarters in Manokwari until 6 August 2015. The case files for the three other detainees have been transferred to the Prosecution. LP3BH lawyers have also reported further instances of denied access to the four detainees. On 24 July, Simon Banundi, a lawyer with LP3BH, was told by Brimob officers that he could not meet with the four detainees due to instructions from Papua Police Chief Inspector General Paulus Warterpauw denying the detainees any visitors.

Cases of concern

Teenager shot dead and 11 others injured in Tolikara clash

On 17 July, a clash broke out between security forces and dozens of members of a congregation of the Evangelical Church in Indonesia (Gereja Injili di Indonesia, GIDI) in Karubaga, Tolikara Regency. Endy Wanimbo, a 16-year-old teenager was shot dead while 11 others were injured.

At around 07:00 Papuan time, a group of GIDI members gathered outside the compound of a Military Command (Komando Rayon Militer, Koramil) post where Eid al-Fitr prayers were taking place in a prayer room (musholla). According to Papuan newspaper Jubi, they were protesting the use of loudspeakers during the prayer session, claiming that it was interrupting a GIDI Youth Conference that was taking place nearby. According to eyewitness accounts as reported in several media reports, some protestors started throwing stones at security forces and worshippers in the compound in retaliation to the use of loudspeakers during the prayer session.

At 07:05, Brimob officers, Tolikara Regional Police and military officers from Infantry Battalion 756 (Batalyon Infanteri 756, Yonif 756) started shooting at the crowd of people gathered outside the Koramil compound. A 16-year-old teenager named Endy Wanimbo was shot dead and at least 11 people suffered gunshot injuries. It is understood that this provoked the burning of several kiosks in the vicinity of the Military Compound and that the fire then spread to the musholla. Reports stated that along with the musholla, around 60 shops were destroyed in the fire and 211 people were left homeless.

According to Jubi, two victims of the shootings, Amaten Wenda and Yetimbula Yikwa, were physically manhandled into giving their thumbprints and forced to sign a letter, of which the contents are unknown, while receiving treatment at Jayapura General Hospital.

Early statements from Papuan civil society organisations criticised various statements made in the media which squarely placed blame for the clash on the Papuan community in Tolikara. A statement released by church leaders in Papua urged security forces to cease the use of weapons and violence in dealing with conflict. On 18 July, the National Commission on Human Rights (Komisi Nasional Hak Asasi Manusia, Komnas HAM) reported its early findings, stating that “the conflict was triggered by police shootings.”

On 23 July, two men were arrested in connection with the arson. Jubi reported that police identified the two men, currently known by their initials as ‘AK’ and ‘JW’, from video footage and eyewitness accounts. The two men will be charged with incitement and violence against persons or property under Articles 160 and 170 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.

Suara Papua reported that Reverend Enden Wanimbo, the President of GIDI, criticised the arrests, highlighting that, by contrast, the perpetrators of the shootings have so far not been identified or brought to account. On 27 July, Reverend Wanimbo, along with Reverend Benny Giay, the leader of the Tabernacle Church in Papua (Kingmi Papua), met with the Papuan branch of the Nahdatul Ulama (NU), agreeing to come to a resolution.

Investigations by government institutions and Papuan civil society groups into the incident are currently ongoing.

Nursing student arbitrarily shot by Wamena police; human rights defenders and lawyers from Coalition threatened

A report received by the Central Papuan Highlands Coalition for Peace, Law and Human Rights (Koalisi untuk Kedamaian, Hukum dan HAM Pegunungan Tengah Papua) stated that on 21 June, Roby Erik Pekey, a 21-year-old nursing school student was arbitrarily shot and detained by Jayawijaya Regional police in Wamena. Police chased and shot Pekey reportedly because he was suspected of stealing a motorcycle a couple days before the incident.

Information received from the Coalition stated that on 21 June, Pekey was chased on motorcycle by a group of 14 plainclothes police officers. During the chase, police proceeded to fire shots at him, causing him to fall off his motorcycle. He was then shot in the right ankle and left thigh and was left unable to walk. Plainclothes officers then reportedly picked him up and threw him into a compound of a nearby house. Police then threatened to shoot him in the head when he started to plead innocence. One of the officers shot him a third time in his left leg.

Shortly after, Pekey was sent to Wamena General Hospital under tight police supervision. On the way to the hospital, Pekey continued to plead innocence by explaining that he had bought his motorcycle from someone who had decided to pawn it. Police officers responded by kicking him in the mouth and eyes. Upon arrival to the hospital, Pekey was thrown onto the asphalt ground, resulting in blisters on his back.

According to the report by the Coalition, upon seeing Pekey’s dire condition, the families of other patients requested medical staff to attend to him first. In response, police officers stopped doctors from doing so and proceeded to taunt and humiliate Pekey by lifting and swinging his injured legs.

Later that evening, Pekey’s family were stopped from visiting him in hospital, reportedly under instructions from Semmy Ronny Thaba, the Head of Jayawijaya Regional Police. The next day, on 22 June, four police officers paid Pekey a visit in hospital, threatening him and his family with guns and forcing him to sign a letter accepting his arrest warrant.

According to the Coalition, police did not conform to the proper procedures in their arrest of Pekey and did not conduct thorough investigations before arresting him. In early July, Jayawijaya police were quoted in several Papuan newspapers, insisting that police officers had acted according to standard procedure during Pekey’s arrest. Thaba stated that police had first fired warning shots but were forced to shoot Pekey when he attempted to escape.

Human rights defenders from the Coalition reported that Pekey was not guilty of stealing the motorcycle, but had acquired it from someone else who had decided to pawn it. Police investigators stated that they would conduct further investigations into these allegations but that they would continue to detain and interrogate Pekey once his injuries have healed.

On 28 July, Hesegem and other human rights defenders from the Coalition accompanied Pekey during a pre-trial hearing in Wamena District Court challenging his arrest. Information received from the Coalition stated that the pre-trial hearing was attended by dozens of police officers, reportedly set up to intimidate them. According to witness accounts as described in a report by the Coalition, police investigators were overheard stating that they “had to kill” AlDP lawyer Anum Siregar, one of the human rights lawyers accompanying Pekey.

Information from the Coalition also detailed other incidents of intimidation and harassment towards their members from Wamena police in connection with this case. On 22 July, police officers blocked the office of human rights organisation Papua Lotus Heart Foundation (Yayaysan Teratai Hati Papua, YTHP), and reportedly threatened Father John Jonjonga, the organisation’s Director. According to the Coalition, Hesegem has also faced threats from Wamena police in connection with his work as a human rights defender in other cases.

News

Clearing House Committee disbanded

Indonesian magazine Tempo reported that on 14 July 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Clearing House Committee has been disbanded. Siti Sofia Sudarma, the Director of Information and Media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Tempo that opening Papua to foreign journalists would bring about “positive change to Indonesia”. In May, during a visit to Papua, President Joko Widodo had announced that foreign journalists would no longer be restricted from entering Papua. Prior to this, foreign journalists were required to undergo a stringent visa application process involving the unanimous approval of the Clearing House Committee, which consisted of 18 separate government agencies.

However, contradictory statements from Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno and Papua National Police Spokesman Sr. Comr. Agus Rianto issued shortly after the President’s announcement in May suggested that foreign journalists would still be subject to screening when applying for visas to report in Papua. A newly established ‘Foreign Affairs Monitoring Team’ is expected to play a similar role to the Clearing House Committee in vetting visa applications from journalists.

Papuan civil society groups commemorate 17th anniversary of the Biak massacre

On 2 July 1998, in the wake of the fall of the New Order regime, political prisoner Filep Karma led a demonstration in Biak where the Morning Star independence flag was raised on a water tower near the harbour. Over the following four days, demonstrators occupied the area and defended the flag from police who attempted to take it down. On 6 July, the Indonesian military took control of the harbour by brutal force. At least 32 people were killed by being dumped in the sea, three people were disappeared, 150 people were tortured, and 33 people were arbitrarily arrested during the massacre.

In commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the Biak massacre, on 6 July this year, a number of Papuan civil society groups gathered for a press conference. Amongst them were KontraS Papua (Komisi untuk Orang Hilang dan Korban Tindak Kekerasan), Solidarity for Victims of Human Rights Violations (Solidaritas untuk Korban Pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia, SKP-HAM), United for Truth (Bersatu Untuk Kebenaran, BUK), Garda Papua and the Independent Student Forum (Forum Independen Mahasiswa, FIM).

July 2015 Papuan Political Prisoners

No Prisoner Arrested Charges Sentence Case Accused of violence? Concerns reported re legal process? Prison/

Place of detention

1 Apnel Hegemur 3 July 2015 Articles 108, 110 Awaiting trial Fak Fak ULMWP arrests Uncertain Uncertain Fakfak
2 Roy Marten Mury 3 July 2015 Articles 108, 110 Awaiting trial Fak Fak ULMWP arrests Uncertain Uncertain Fakfak
3 Daniel Hegemur 3 July 2015 Articles 108, 110 Awaiting trial Fak Fak ULMWP arrests Uncertain Uncertain Fakfak
4 Arnes Silak 15 June 2015 Uncertain Police investigation pending KNPB Sentani Airport arrest Uncertain Uncertain Papuan Police Headquarters
5 Yafet Keiya 28 May 2015 Uncertain Police investigation pending MSG demo in Nabire Uncertain Uncertain Nabire
6 Ottis Munipa 28 May 2015 Uncertain Police investigation pending MSG demo in Nabire Uncertain Uncertain Nabire
7 Wamoka Yudas Kossay 22 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Biak Uncertain Uncertain Biak
8 Apolos Sroyer 20 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Biak Uncertain Uncertain Biak
9 Dorteus Bonsapia 20 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Biak Uncertain Uncertain Biak
10 Narko Murib 20 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Manokwari Uncertain Yes Manokwari
11 Alexander Nekenem 20 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Manokwari Uncertain Yes Manokwari
12 Yoram Magai 20 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Manokwari Uncertain Yes Manokwari
13 Othen Gombo 20 May 2015 Article 160 Awaiting trial MSG demo in Manokwari Uncertain Yes Manokwari
14 Obed Korie 15 May 2015 Article 170 On trial Sorong demo against PT PPM Uncertain Uncertain Sorong
15 Odie Aitago 15 May 2015 Article 170 On trial Sorong demo against PT PPM Uncertain Uncertain Sorong
16 Ruben Furay 1 May 2015 Uncertain Police investigation pending Kaimana 1 May 2015 Uncertain Uncertain Kaimana
17 Sepi Surbay 1 May 2015 Uncertain Police investigation pending Kaimana 1 May 2015 Uncertain Uncertain Kaimana
18 Domingus Babika 1 May 2015 Unclear Police investigation pending Manokwari 1 May 2015 Uncertain Uncertain Manokwari Regional Police Station
19 Dr Don Flassy* 14 April 2015 Articles 106, 55(1),53(1) On bail KIP treason arrests Uncertain Uncertain Bailed, city arrest, cannot leave Jayapura
20 Dr Lawrence Mehue* 14 April 2015 Articles 106, 55(1),53(1) On bail KIP treason arrests Uncertain Uncertain Bailed, city arrest, cannot leave Jayapura
21 Mas Jhon Ebied Suebu* 14 April 2015 Articles 106, 108(2), 55(1), 53(1) On bail KIP treason arrests Uncertain Uncertain Bailed, city arrest, cannot leave Jayapura
22 Onesimus Banundi* 14 April 2015 Articles 106, 108(2), 55(1), 53(1) On bail KIP treason arrests Uncertain Uncertain Bailed, city arrest, cannot leave Jayapura
23 Elias Ayakeding* 14 April 2015 Articles 106, 160 On bail KIP treason arrests Uncertain Uncertain Bailed, city arrest, cannot leave Jayapura
24 Kelpis Wenda 17 March 2015 Emergency Law 12/1951 On trial Lanny Jaya torture Yes Yes Wamena
25 Kamori Murib 9 December 2014 Emergency Law 12/1951 On trial Lanny Jaya torture Yes Yes Wamena
26 Yosep Siep 9 July 2014 Articles 187, 164 Supreme Court appeal being considered Pisugi Election Boycott Yes Yes Released pending appeal
27 Marthen Marian 9 July 2014 Articles 187, 164 Supreme Court appeal being considered Pisugi Election Boycott Yes Yes Released pending appeal
28 Jhoni Marian 9 July 2014 Articles 187, 164 Supreme Court appeal being considered Pisugi Election Boycott Yes Yes Released pending appeal
29 Alapia Yalak 4 June 2014 Uncertain Police investigation pending Yahukimo arrests Yes Yes Papua Police Headquarters
 30 Jemi Yermias Kapanai 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
31 Septinus Wonawoai 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
32 Rudi Otis Barangkea 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
33 Kornelius Woniana 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
34 Peneas Reri 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
35 Salmon Windesi 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
36 Obeth Kayoi 1 February 2014 Articles 106, 108, 110 and Emergency Law 12/1951 3.5 years Sasawa military raid arrests Yes Yes Sorong
37 Soleman Fonataba* 17 December 2013 Articles 106, 110)1, 53, 55 1.5 years city arrest, appeal pending Sarmi 2013 Melanesian flag arrests No / not yet clear No On bail, cannot leave Sarmi
38 Edison Werimon* 13 December 2013 Articles 106, 110)1, 53, 55 1.5 years city arrest, appeal pending Sarmi 2013 Melanesian flag arrests No / not yet clear No On bail, cannot leave Sarmi
39 Piethein Manggaprouw 19 October 2013 Articles 106, 110 2 years Third Papuan Congress demo in Biak No Yes Biak
40 Oktovianus Warnares 1 May 2013 Articles 106, 110, Emergency Law 12/1951 7 years Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration Yes Yes Biak
41 Yoseph Arwakon 1 May 2013 Articles 106, 110, Emergency Law 12/1951 2 years and 6 months Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration Yes Yes Biak
42 Markus Sawias 1 May 2013 Articles 106, 110, Emergency Law 12/1951 2 years Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration Yes Yes Biak
43 George Syors Simyapen 1 May 2013 Articles 106, 110, Emergency Law 12/1951 4.5 years Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration Yes Yes Biak
44 Jantje Wamaer 1 May 2013 Articles 106, 110, Emergency Law 12/1951 2 years and 6 months Biak flag-raising, 1 May commemoration Yes Yes Biak
45 Isak Klaibin 30 April

2013

Articles 06, 107, 108, 110, 160 and 164 3 years and 6 months Aimas 1 May commemoration No Yes Sorong
46 Jefri Wandikbo 7 June 2012 Articles 340, 56,  Law 8/1981 8 years KNPB activist tortured in Jayapura Yes Yes Abepura
47 Darius Kogoya 1 May 2012 106 3 years 1 May demo and flag-raising No No Abepura
48 Wiki Meaga 20 November 2010 106 8 years Yalengga flag-raising No Yes Wamena
49 Meki Elosak 20 November 2010 106 8 years Yalengga flag-raising No Yes Wamena
50 Filep Karma 1 December 2004 106 15 years Abepura flag-raising 2004 No Yes Abepura
51 Yusanur Wenda 30 April 2004 106 17 years Wunin arrests Yes No Wamena

*While these detainees have been bailed and are not currently behind bars, they continue to face charges and are currently undergoing investigation. As they are vulnerable to re-arrest, we will continue to monitor any developments in these cases.

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