Herman Wanggai is an activist for West Papua who has been living in Australia and the United States in recent years. He is most well-known for having organised a boat with 43 West Papuan refugees through the Torres Straits to Australia. As explained in an article on infopapua.org, this action was intended to raise awareness of the situation in West Papua, as well as for the participants from all over West Papua to escape persecution.
Herman Wanggai was arrested in 2002 during an action to raise the 14-star flag of the West Melanesian State. Mr Wanggai was arrested together with Edison Waromi and Yordan Ick. An article in the Jakarta Post newspaper explains that the event, which took place on 14th December 2002 at the Cenderawasih University Compound, was in commemoration of the fourteenth anniversary of the day when Thom Wanggai (Herman Wanggai’s uncle) proclaimed West Melanesia as an independent state. Edison Waromi and Yordan Ick had both been present that day in 1988; they had been arrested and subsequent imprisoned.
Herman Wanggai was charged with treason under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. Articles in the Cenderawasih Pos newspaper followed the progress of their trial. One article explains that the three defendents presented demurrers in which they affirmed their belief in the West Melanesian State and presented the whole process of their arrests, detention and trial as a violation of their human rights. Herman Wanggai’s demurrer bore the title “Voice of Melanesia, Voice of the People, Voice of Truth, Voice of West Melanesia”.
On the ninth of October 2003, Herman Wanggai and Edison Waromi were both sentenced to two years in prison, the full amount that the prosecution had demanded.
Sometime after their sentencing, the three men somehow went missing from the Abepura jail. The Cenderawasih Pos reports that Edison Waromi was re-arrested in Abepura on December 1st 2003 and served the rest of his sentence. Herman Wanggai at that time had made it to Sorong, but it is not clear whether he then returned to prison. Yordan Ick had already served his whole 10-month sentence.
Steven Fitzpatrick, 25/09/2006 “Papuan Refugees were hand-picked”, http://www.infopapua.org/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=37&num=1121&printer=1
The Jakarta Post, 16/12/2002, “Police arrest three over seperatist street parade”, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2002/12/16/police-arrest-three-over-separatist-street-parade.html
Harian Cenderawasih Pos, 17 Juni 2003, “EKSEPSI KASUS MAKAR “BINTANG 14” DOBEL -Para Terdakwa Tolak Isi Dakwaan Jaksa”, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Komunitas_Papua/message/684
Harian Cenderawasih Pos, 10 Oktober 2003, “Terdakwa ‘Bintang 14’ Dinyatakan terbukti bersalah Dinilai Memenuhi Unsur Dakwaan”, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Komunitas_Papua/message/1068
Harian Cenderawasih Pos, 2 Desember 2003, “Satu Terpidana “Bintang 14” Ditangkap – Yang Lainnya Sudah Diidentivikasi Keberadaannya”, http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/Komunitas_Papua/message/1232