Gat Wenda is a member of the Guardians of the Land of Papua (Penjaga Tanah Papua, PETAPA), an indigenous community security organisation. He also participated in the organisation of the October 2011 Third Papuan People’s Congress, which lead to his arrest under treason charges.
From 17 to 19 October 2011, the Third Papuan People’s Congress was attended by more than 4,000 Papuan participants, and took place at the Zacheus football field of the Catholic Mission in Padang Bulan, near the provincial capital of Jayapura. The ‘Morning Star’ flag was raised at the event. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), around 2,200 members of the Indonesian military (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI) and the police Mobile Brigades (Brigade Mobil, known locally as ‘Brimob’) were present. At least 100 members of the security forces reportedly surrounded the area with police cars, armoured vehicles and heavy firearms, whereas the participants were unarmed.
On 19 October 2011 at around 14:00 local time, a political declaration about the self-determination of Papuan people was read out by Mr Forkorus Yaboisembut and Mr Edison Waromi, who had just been elected as political leaders of what was declared to be the West Papuan Federal State.
Following the declaration, the Congress ended and participants began to disperse to return to their homes. Security forces began to fire shots into the air and reportedly used tear gas on the retreating crowd whilst beating participants, resulting in dozens injured. Around 300 persons were arrested and taken into custody in trucks, most of whom were later released. Video footage of the event, obtained by Down to Earth and TAPOL, has confirmed that a large number of shots were fired, and that unarmed Congress participants were beaten.
Mr Wenda was arrested along with four of the other Congress organisers; Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Dominikus Sorabut, and August Makbrawen Sananay Kraar. On 20 October, Selpius Bobii, Chairman of the Congress, surrendered to the police. While the other five men were charged with treason, Mr Wenda was charged under the 1951 Emergency Law on possession of a sharp weapon, and sentenced to five months in prison. He was released on 15 March 2012, having already spent four months in detention. The other five men were each sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Amnesty International, “Indonesia: release participants of peaceful gathering in Papua,” 20 October 2011,
Asian Human Rights Commission, “Security forces open fire at the Third Papuan People’s Congress,” 19 October 2011,
Asian Human Rights Commission, “Troops open fire on Papuan gathering,” 20 October 2011,
Asian Human Rights Commission, “Indonesia: one person killed, hundreds arrested, and five persons charged with rebellion at the Third Papuan People’s Congress,” 20 October 2011,
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, “Congressman Faleomavaega calls upon government of Indonesia to ensure safe and humane treatment for West Papuans in custody and to work for their release,” 21 October 2011,
Human Rights Watch, “Indonesia: independent investigation needed into Papua violence,” 27 October 2011,
Jakarta Globe, “Dozens injured as Papua group declares independence from Indonesia,” 19 October 2011,
Jakarta Globe, “At Papuan Congress, a brutal show of force,” 22 October 2011,
TAPOL, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, West Papua Advocacy Team, “Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage,” 20 October 2011,
Video : Metro TV, “Polisi Buru Peserta Kongres Pendirian Negara Papua,» 19 October 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eB_lHvxGdg
Last updated : 4 Januari 2013