Sebby Sambon is originally from Yalimo, and was aged 30 when he was arrested in 2008. He is an independent human rights defender, and a pro-independence campaigner.
On 16 October 2008, Mr Sambom took part in a peaceful demonstration to support the launch of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in London.
Following the demonstration, the Chair of the organising Committee, Buchtar Tabuni, was detained. According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, on 17 December 2008 Mr Sambom spoke at a press conference calling for Mr Tabuni’s release, which took place in the Theys Eluay Memorial Park in Sentani, Jayapura. At this event Mr Sambom himself was then arrested, although the arresting officers reportedly failed to produce an arrest warrant or inform him of the charges against him. Mr Sambom was later charged with treason (article 106 of the Indonesian criminal code), conspiracy (110) and public incitement to commit a violent or disobedient act against the public authorities (160), in connection with the October demonstration.
In January 2009, one month after his arrest, Mr Sambom gave a tape-recorded interview in which he stated that he had been mistreated in detention. According to his statement, whilst in detention Mr Sambom was denied water, not allowed to see his lawyer, threatened with batons and verbally abused.
The trial began on 6 May 2009, and on 10 September 2009 Mr Sambom was sentenced to two years imprisonment for incitement (article 160). During the statement for the defence in September 2009, Mr Sambom reportedly read out a 113-page document detailing all the ways the prosecution and police had misapplied the law. Mr Sambom was released on parole on 14 December 2009, before the end of his sentence.
According to independent human rights activist Yasons Sambom, a few months after his release, Sebby Sambom and his family were forced into hiding in the forest. Mr Sambom had reportedly been followed by a car with tinted windows and had received death threats against his family.
On 4 December 2010, almost a year after his release, Mr Sambom was re-arrested in Jayapura while trying to board a plane to Jakarta for an onward flight to Hong Kong, in order to attend a training of the Asian Human Rights Commission. After this surprise arrest his lawyer explained that although Mr Sambom had previously been released because papers authorising his detention had expired, the Supreme Court had now ordered his re-arrest. In January 2011 Mr Sambom issued a statement describing the circumstances of the arrest. He notes that when he asked the police intelligence agents carrying out the arrest why they chose to arrest him in this manner, rather than writing to notify him of the arrest warrant, they stated that while they received the command to arrest him in September 2010, they had not yet had chance to send him the letter. Police claimed that at the time of this second arrest, Mr Sambom was carrying a ‘Morning Star’ flag in his laptop case, which is listed in the items seized from him during the arrest. Mr Sambom denies that the flag was his, saying that it was planted by intelligence agents after they seized his belongings. The Morning Star flag is a symbol of Papuan identity, and while it is allowed under Indonesia’s 2001 Special Autonomy laws relating to the governance of Papua, it was subsequently banned by Presidential Regulation 77/2007.
On 22 February 2011, Mr Sambom went before a parole board, and was found to have satisfied the conditions for parole. However, by June 2011 he was still in detention. On 1 June 2011 the Sambom family, together with independent human rights activist Yasons Sambom filed a complaint with the Law and Human Rights Ministry, stating that while Mr Sambom had already satisfied the conditions for parole and the correct administrative fees had been paid, he still remained in detention, whereas other detainees satisfying conditions for parole had been released.
Mr Sambom was then re-released on parole on 26 July 2011. On his release he complained to Tabloid Jubi that the letter from the regional office of the Department of Law and Human Rights authorising his release had been signed and dated almost four months earlier, on 31 March 2011. According to Tabloid Jubi he also stated that “I am not free from prison yet. I will only be free when all Papuans are free from colonial oppression.”
Asian Human Rights Commission, “Another activist arrested for holding a peaceful protest,” 20 December 2008, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAU-071-2008
“Berita acara penyitaan,” Kepolisian Negara Republik Indonesia Daerah Papua, Direktorat Reserse Kriminal, 14 December 2010, signed Yuvenalis Yakamulli SH MH.
Faith Based Network on West Papua, “Human Rights in Papua 2009,” 2009, http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/baru/fbnwp-2010-hr-report-2009.pdf
Free West Papua Campaign, “Sebby Sambom released from prison in West Papua,” 15 December 2009,
Free West Papua Campaign, “Sebby Sambom sentenced to two years imprisonment,” [undated], http://www.freewestpapua.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1026&Itemid=2
Sambom, Y, “Berita Darurat Atas Pencarian Sebby Sambom Oleh Pihak KAPOLDA, KEJAKSAAN, INTEL dan LP Unt Menagkap,” Warta Papua Barat, 10 March 2010, http://www.wartapapuabarat.org/index.php/component/content/article/102-berita-darurat-atas-pencarian-sebby-sambom-oleh-pihak-kapolda-kejaksaan-intel-dan-lp-unt-menagkap
Sebby Sambom, “Kronologis Lengkap Atas Penangkapan Sebby Sambom,” 21 January 2011, http://www.infopapua.org/WPB/index.php/component/content/article/508-kronologis-lengkap-atas-penangkapan-sebby-sambom
Tabloid Jubi, “Sebby Sambom kembali ditahan,” 21 January 2011, http://tabloidjubi.com/daily-news/jayapura/10632-sebby-sambom-kembali-ditahan.html
Tabloid Jubi, “Sambom: saba bebas dari penjara ketika rakyat papua barat bebas dari penjara colonial,” 27 July 2011,
Tanahku West Papua, “News from the prison: Sebby Sambom and Buktar Tabuni were isolated from their lawyers,” 24 January 2009, http://www.tanahku.west-papua.nl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=129&Itemid=1
West Papua Media, “West Papua human rights defender arrested by police,” 5 December 2010, http://westpapuamedia.info/2010/12/05/west-papua-human-rights-defender-arrested-by-police/
Yason Y Sambom & Anice Kogoya Sambom, “Pengaduan Serta Pernyataan Keluarga Napi (Sebby Sambom) dan Activis HAM Papua,” (Complaint and statement of the family of prisoner Sebby Sambom and Papuan human rights activists), Jayapura, 1 June 2011.