On 13 December, Edison Werimon was arrested when a West Melanesian 14-star flag and allegedly treasonous documents were found in his home in Sarmi. Soleman Fonataba was arrested four days later on 17 December 2013. The two men are accused of conspiracy to commit treason under Articles 106, 110, 53 and 55 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.
The prosecution letter (surat dakwaan) for the two men stated that upon finding a West Melanesian 14-star flag hung on the wall of Edison Werimon’s front room, Sarmi police arrested him and searched his home. Police reportedly found documents that detailed a meeting on 2 November 2013 hosted at Werimon’s home which intended to form a pro-Melanesian body called the ‘Republic Regional Melanesian Sarmi Senate,’ with Soleman Fonataba as their leader. Police then searched Fonataba’s home without a search warrant and reportedly found four West Melanesian 14-star flags and other pro-Melanesian documents.
Human rights lawyers condemned the police searches as unprocedural and thuggish. Gustaf Kawer, one of the lawyers for the two men, reported to local Papuan newspaper Jubi that fully armed police had entered Werimon’s home by force and threatened his son at gunpoint, forcing him to lay on his stomach during the search. When Werimon’s wife questioned police, they reportedly said that they did not have a reason for the search. Police confiscated a small suitcase, three machetes and a few small axes. They also seized her childrens’ diploma certificates and money totalling IDR 1,600,000 (around USD 140), but these were later returned.
On 22 April, Edison Werimon and Soleman Fonetaba were each sentenced to one-and-a-half-years’ city arrest minus time already spent in detention after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit treason. City arrest forbids them from leaving Sarmi regency. As they have already been under city arrest since 23 July 2014, their sentences would end on 23 January 2016. The two men have since submitted an appeal on their sentences to the Sarmi High Court.
Email correspondence with human rights lawyers, January – March 2014
“Gustaf Kawer: Kasus Sarmi, Polisi Jangan Seperti Preman,” 20 March 2014, http://tabloidjubi.com/2014/03/20/gustaf-kawer-kasus-sarmi-polisi-jangan-seperti-preman/