Papuans Behind Bars is a new project about political prisoners in West Papua. Our aim is to provide accurate and transparent data, published in English and Indonesian, to facilitate direct support for prisoners and promote wider debate and campaigning in support of free expression in West Papua.
Papuans Behind Bars is a collective project initiated by Papuan civil society groups working together as the Civil Society Coalition to Uphold Law and Human Rights in Papua. It is a grassroots initiative and represents a broad collaboration between lawyers, human rights groups, adat groups, activists, journalists and individuals in West Papua, Jakarta-based NGOs and international solidarity groups.
Questions and comments are welcomed, and you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
At the end of February 2013 there were at least 36 political prisoners in Papuan jails. The Timika treason and explosives case began, and the Serui Indigenous people’s day case and Biak explosives trial continued. There has been no information as yet on the Mantembu ‘TPN camp’ case.
Parole requests are pending for Apotnalogolik Lokobal, Kimanus Wenda and Linus Hiluka, all serving long sentences in connection with the raid on the Wamena military arsenal in 2003. In connection with the same case, requests were submitted to commute the life sentences of Jefrai Murib and Numbungga Telenggen to fixed term sentences. A request for clemency submitted in 2010 on behalf of six political prisoners currently held in Wamena prison has still met with no response from the government.
Seven arrested in Depapre and allegedly tortured in connection with pro-independence activists
On 15 February 2013 seven men were arbitrarily arrested in Depapre and allegedly tortured. Daniel Gobay, Arsel Kobak, Eneko Pahabol, Yosafat Satto, Salim Yaru, Matan Klembiap and Obed Bahabol were arrested by police officers at gunpoint. They were taken to Depapre Sub-District Police Station and later to Jayapura Police Station where they allegedly suffered torture, intimidation and degrading treatment.
The seven men were reportedly tortured because they told police that they had no knowledge of the whereabouts of pro-independence activists Sebby Sambom and Terianus Satto. Sebby Sambom (see News below) is a former political prisoner who served time in jail for his involvement in mass demonstrations carried out by the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB) in 2008.
The seven men were allegedly kicked, beaten with rattan sticks, electrocuted and forced to take their clothes off. Kobak told the Asian Human Rights Commission that because of the torture he suffered he is now experiencing hearing difficulties.
Police have denied any allegations of torture and stated that the seven men were arrested because of information they had about Terianus Satto. Police also claimedthat the families of the seven detained men were informed of their interrogation.
Five of the seven men were released the next day on 16 February 2013, while Daniel Gobay and Matan Klembiap are still detained at Jayapura Police Station, facing charges of possession of weapons under the 1951 Emergency Law 12 and a maximum sentence of 20 years. As of the time of writing, it is unclear whether Gobay and Klembiap have any legal representation. Gobay’s detention has reportedly been extended until 16 April 2013.
Two alleged OPM members arrested in Paniai
On 25 February 2013 two men with initials ‘AG’ and ‘PG’ were arrested in Kampung Ayaigo, Kebo District, Paniai and questioned at the Paniai Police Station. Policeclaimed that they spotted one of them loitering and observing Paniai police, and they proceeded to give chase. The two men were reportedly carrying 7.56 calibre ammunition and woven Morning Star symbols. They were charged with the 1951 Emergency Law 12 for allegedly possessing explosives and ammunition, which carries a maximum fixed term sentence of 20 years imprisonment or an indefinite life sentence. Police claimed that the two men confessed to violence and shootings in the Paniai area and that they were part of the Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM) group led by Jhon Yogi. It is not known whether the two men have legal representation as of the time of writing.
The arrests came at a time of instability in West Papua, following the Puncak Jaya shootings four days earlier, allegedly carried out by the National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional, TPN), the armed wing of the OPM. The shootings led to the death of eight Indonesian soldiers and four civilians.
Yusak Pakage released
Former political prisoner and human rights activist Yusak Pakage was released on 19 February 2013 after serving his sentence. Pakage was arrested while attending the trial of political prisoner Buchtar Tabuni on 23 July 2012. Angry at what he perceived to be an unjust trial, he became annoyed and kicked a bin, angering a court official. On being searched by police he was arrested for carrying a penknife, convicted under Emergency Law 12/1951 and sentenced to seven months in jail. He has also previously served five and a half years in prison for a peaceful flag raising ceremony in December 2004. As a political prisoner he has been denied access to medical treatment and threatened several times with torture and other ill-treatment.
Political Trials and Cases Overview
While some ongoing political trials can be seen as ‘purely’ political cases, others allegedly involve criminal as well as political elements. As some of these cases are more complex, Papuans Behind Bars is not always able to determine whether the defendants are political prisoners until the details of their trials are known. However, there are concerns that defendants in political trials are at risk of not receiving adequate legal representation or a fair trial. We therefore continue to report on the progress of all those political trials we are aware of.
Wamena explosives case
It is thought that eight KNPB members remain in detention in Wamena, believed to be Edo Doga, Yan Yunus Wamu, Jemi Mabel, Melias Kosay, Ribka Kosay (female), Yusuf Hiluka, Lucky Matuan, and Athys Wenda. Papuans Behind Bars believes that the eight are still without legal representation, and by the end of February 2013 they had been in detention for between 90 days (Athys Wenda) and 121 days (other defendants).
Timika treason and explosives case
On 7 February 2013 the trial of six KNPB members began at the Timika District Court. Arrested on 29 October 2012, Yakonias Womsiwor, Paulus Marsyom, Alfred Marsyom, Steven Itlay and Romario Yatipai were charged with Emergency Law 12/1951 (primary) and Article 106 of the Criminal Code (secondary) for possession of indigenous Biak arrows, while Yanto Awerkion was charged with Article 1 paragraph (1) of the 1951 Emergency Law 12 for possession of explosives, and Article 106 of the Criminal Code, both as primary charges.
On 14 February the Defence Counsel submitted their demurrer, stating that Awerkion was charged with two primary charges, going against the rules set forth in the Indonesian Criminal Code. The police also reportedly tortured the suspects during the interrogation and denied Awerkion legal counsel when he was detained. The Defence also argued that the Prosecutor’s indictment of the offences was inaccurate, unclear and incomplete, and called for the case to be thrown out. The next hearing will be held on 7 March 2013.
Serui: Indigenous people’s day case
On 28 February 2013, the Serui court rejected the demurrer presented by the Defence Counsel for pro-independence activists Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboi, which argued that the indictment was inaccurate, unclear and incomplete. The Defence Counsel has appealed the decision to the Jayapura High Court, so the trial has been delayed by two weeks, with the next session to be held on 14 March 2013.
Both men are activists with the West Papua National Authority (Otoritas Nasional Papua Barat) who took part in a peaceful demonstration on 9 August 2012 in Serui, to commemorate the UN Day of World’s Indigenous people. They were charged with treason and incitement. Local human rights defenders report that the two men are ill due to the prison conditions and the torture they have suffered. Edison Kendi in particular was reportedly badly beaten by the police Mobile Brigades when he was arrested. His 11-year-old son Desyudi has reportedly received threats from an intelligence agent name Rian and was forced to leave school, without being told the reason by school authorities.
Dani Kogoya case
The trial continued (after some delay) on 4 February 2013 when the charges were read. According to lawyers based in Jayapura, of the 12 witnesses presented by the prosecution, none actually saw Dani Kogoya take part in the ambush or shooting which he is alleged to have carried out in Nafri on 1 August 2011. The trial continues.
Political prisoner Dominikus Surabut receives award in Abepura Prison
On 26 February 2013, the 2012 Hellman/Hammett Appreciation grant was awarded to Dominikus Surabut, a West Papuan political prisoner, human rights activist and writer. The award was delivered to him at Abepura prison where he is currently imprisoned. According to Enggel Surabut, Dominikus’s brother, the grant was delivered directly to Dominikus at the Abepura Prison by the Executive Secretary of the Papuan Indigenous Council (Dewan Adat Papua, DAP) and the Secretary of the Lapago Traditional Council (Dewan Adat Lapago, one of the sub-councils of DAP ).
The Hellman/Hammett grants are awarded to writers who have faced persecution for their work, generally by repressive government authorities who seek to prevent them from publishing information and opinions. Surabut, who was arrested in October 2011 for his role in organising the Third Papuan People’s Congress, had previously produced a number of documentaries on human rights issues, interviewed victims of torture by Indonesian soldiers and written several books and op-ed articles about the Papuan people. Surabut was convicted of treason along with four other Papuan leaders and sentenced to three years in prison.
Former political prisoner Sebby Sambom flees to Papua New Guinea
Pro-independence activist Sebby Sambom has fled to Papua New Guinea with his wife and child to seek political asylum. As a former political prisoner, Sambom has received death threats and intimidation and as a result of this fled to Papua New Guinea in the hopes of seeking political asylum. Sambom has reportedly not yet received the protection of Papua New Guinea or a third country, and there are concerns for his safety.
20 criminal prisoners held in Abepura Correctional Facility allegedly tortured
On 21 January 2013 twenty men were reportedly tortured at Abepura prison by three prison guards with the tacit assent of the then head of the prison, Nuridin.20 criminal prisoners held in Abepura Correctional Facility allegedly tortured Local activists reported that Bonifasius Manuputy, Yulianan Wanane and Eli Asip Wamuar severely tortured the prisoners, using methods like whipping with thick wires and beating with bare hands. One of the prisoners who suffered torture, Pelius Tabuni, had his left arm broken from the severe beating with the thick wire. The prisoners were denied medical treatment despite the injuries they suffered.
The head of the prison, Nuridin, was removed from his office in early March, with no sign as of yet of any criminal proceedings against those responsible for the torture. There were allegations of torture at Abepura prison in June 2012, where similarly, the then head of prison was replaced, but no criminal investigations took place.
February 2013 Papuan political prisoners
|Apotnalogolik Lokobal||10 April 2003||20 years||Wamena ammunition store raid||Biak|
|Numbungga Telenggen||11 April 2003||Life||Wamena ammunition store raid||Biak|
|Kimanus Wenda||12 April 2003||20 years||Wamena ammunition store raid||Nabire|
|Linus Hiluka||27 May 2003||20 years||Wamena ammunition store raid||Nabire|
|Jefrai Murib||12 April 2003||Life||Wamena ammunition store raid||Abepura|
|Luis Gede||16 March 2006||15 years||Abepura case 2006||Abepura|
|Ferdinand Pakage||16 March 2006||15 years||Abepura case 2006||Abepura|
|Filep Karma||1 December 2004||15 years||Abepura flag-raising 2004||Abepura|
|George Ariks||13 March 2009||5 years||Unknown||Manokwari|
|Dipenus Wenda||28 March 2004||14 years||Bokondini election boycott||Wamena|
|Yusanur Wenda||30 April 2004||17 years||Wunin arrests||Wamena|
|Obed Kosay||20 November 2010||8 years||Yalengga flag-raising||Wamena|
|Meki Elosak||20 November 2010||8 years||Yalengga flag-raising||Wamena|
|Oskar Hilago||20 November 2010||8 years||Yalengga flag-raising||Wamena|
|Wiki Meaga||20 November 2010||8 years||Yalengga flag-raising||Wamena|
|Selpius Bobii||20 October 2011||3 years||Third Papua Congress||Abepura|
|August Kraar||19 October 2011||3 years||Third Papua Congress||Abepura|
|Dominikus Surabut||19 October 2011||3 years||Third Papua Congress||Abepura|
|Edison Waromi||19 October 2011||3 years||Third Papua Congress||Abepura|
|Forkorus Yaboisembut||19 October 2011||3 years||Third Papua Congress||Abepura|
|Darius Kogoya||1 May 2012||3 years||1 May demo and flag-raising||Abepura|
|Timur Wakerkwa||1 May 2012||3 years||1 May demo and flag-raising||Abepura|
|Edison Kendi||9 August 2012||Trial ongoing||Indigenous people’s day celebrations, Yapen||Serui|
|Yan Piet Maniamboy||9 August 2012||Trial ongoing||Indigenous people’s day celebrations, Yapen||Serui|
|Jon Nuntian||29 May 2012||Not yet tried||Serui ‘TPN camp’ case||Serui|
|Jamal Omrik Manitori||3 July 2012||Not yet tried||Serui ‘TPN camp’ case||Serui|
|Stephen Itlay||19 October 2012||Trial ongoing||Timika explosives case||Timika|
|Romario Yatipai||19 October 2012||Trial ongoing||Timika explosives case||Timika|
|Paulus Marsyom||19 October 2012||Trial ongoing||Timika explosives case||Timika|
|Yantho Awerkion||19 October 2012||Trial ongoing||Timika explosives case||Timika|
|Jack Wansior||19 October 2012||Trial ongoing||Timika explosives case||Timika|
|Alfret Marsyom||19 October 2012||Trial ongoing||Timika explosives case||Timika|
|Daniel Gobay||15 February 2012||Trial ongoing||Depapre arrests||Depapre|
|Matan Klembiap||15 February 2012||Trial ongoing||Depapre arrests||Depapre|
|‘AG’||25 February 2012||Trial ongoing||Paniai alleged OPM arrests||Paniai|
|‘PG’||25 February 2012||Trial ongoing||Paniai alleged OPM arrests||Paniai|