Selpius Bobii, born in 1979, is Chairman of the United Front of West Papuan People’s Struggle, Front Eknas Pepera PB. As a student, he was first arrested in 2006 following his involvement in protests against the US mining company Freeport-McMoRan (see below). On 7 July 2011, he was involved in drafting the Papuan Peace Declaration, as part of the ‘Dialog Jakarta-Papua’ process advocated by Dr Muridan Widjojo and Dr Neles Tebay. Mr Bobii was also the main organiser and Chairman of the October 2011 Third Papuan People’s Congress, leading to his arrest under treason charges.
According to local newspaper Bintang Papua, Mr Bobii said that the Congress was an opportunity for Papuans “to convey their opinions about what they feel.” He had officially requested the Indonesian government to participate and be represented in the Congress by Djoko Suyanto, Minister-Coordinator for Political, Legal and Security Affairs. However, in the event, the Minister-Coordinator declined to attend.
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, 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. At this point, according to a report by local NGO Justice, Peace and Integrity, (Keadilan, Perdamaian and Keutuhan Ciptaan, KPKC), Mr Bobii declared “we want to return to the sovereignty which once existed,” and appealed to the central government “to draw up a programme of development to ensure that the people experience improvements in their living conditions.”
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.
While Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, August Makbrawen Sananay Kraar, Dominikus Sorabut, and Gat Wenda were arrested on the spot, Human Rights Watch reported that Mr Bobii eluded the police but surrendered on 20 October 2011, accompanied by his lawyers and a Papuan journalist. All six were charged with treason (article 106 of the Indonesian Penal Code), conspiracy (article 110), and public incitement to violence against the authorities (article 160). They are currently detained in Jayapura Police Station, awaiting trial.
Before the Congress Selpius Bobii had already completed one term in prison. He was arrested after the disturbances which broke out in Abepura on 16 March 2006, in which four police and military personnel were killed. The clashes had started after a demonstration demanding the closure of the Freeport mine, and as the General Secretary of Front Pepera which had called the demo Mr Bobii was arrested and charged under article 160 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, for incitement.
According to the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Papua (Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Papua), Mr Bobii’s arrest triggered violent clashes between the police forces and protestors. He was held in isolation from his family and other detainees, and denied access to lawyers and journalists. Mr Bobii was reportedly subjected to torture, as were the other 23 prisoners held in relation to these incidents. The Indonesian Working Group on the Advocacy Against Torture has reported that Mr Bobii was kicked, punched, slapped and beaten with a chair, causing a torn lower lip and injuries and bruises all over his body.
Several organisations, including Amnesty International and an Advocacy Team set up to follow that case, have criticised the unfair and intimidatory nature of the trial. Among the complaints were that the judges based their evidence on the initial interrogation reports of the prisoners which were obtained under torture, that police and intelligence agents were present in the trial, that the indictees were threatened with death if they did not confess, and that they were also beaten shortly before appearing in court for one of the sessions. On 26 July 2006 Mr Bobii was sentenced to six years imprisonment.
Amnesty International, “Indonesia: release participants of peaceful gathering in Papua,” 20 October 2011,
Amnesty International, Urgent Alert 234/06, 31 August 2006, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA21/013/2006/en/e25384c7-f9d4-11dd-b1b0-c961f7df9c35/asa210132006en.pdf
Advocacy team for the Abepura clash of 16 March 2006, “The report of the hearing of the case relating to the clash in Abepura on 16 March 2006 in the Abepura state court, ” 21 August 2006, http://www.faithbasednetworkonwestpapua.org/userfiles/files/FurtherReading/GFSR(1).pdf
Asian Human Rights Commission, “Papuan Peace Declaration,” 12 July 2011,
Asian Human Rights Commission, “Security forces open fire at the Third Papuan People’s Congress,” 19 October 2011, http://www.humanrights.asia/news/press-releases/AHRC-PRL-042-2011
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,
Bintang Papua, “Third Papuan Congress opens in a field,” 17 October 2011, available in English translation at West Papua Media, http://westpapuamedia.info/tag/selpius-bobii/
Bintang Papua, “Indonesian senior minister will not be attending Papuan Congress,” 17 October 2011, available in English translation at http://westpapuamedia.info/tag/selpius-bobii/
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,
Ecumenic Council of Churches in Papua (Persekutuan Gereja-gereja di Papua), “Executive summary of the preliminary report of the Abepura case 16 March 2006,” 29 September 2006, http://www.hampapua.org/skp/skp06/var-10e.pdf
Human Rights Watch, “Indonesia: independent investigation needed into Papua violence,” 27 October 2011,
Indonesian Working Group on Advocacy against Torture, May 2008, “Annex-Shadow Report” http://www.elsam.or.id/downloads/1266673146_Annex_Shadow_Report_CAT.pdf
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,
Jakarta Post, “Abepura trial begins in Papua,” 18 March 2006,
Jerry Omona & Angga Haksoro, “Front Pepera: Violence in Abepura prison is unacceptable,” 13 July 2010, available in English translation at Human Rights Media, http://www.vhrmedia.com/Front-Pepera-Violence-in-Abepura-Prison-Is-Unacceptable-news4907.html
Jerry Omona & Angga Haksoro, “Violence against political prisoners,” 10 August 2010, available in English translation at Voice of Human rights Media, http://www.vhrmedia.com/Violence-against-Political-Prisoners-%281%29-story5266.html
Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, (Keadilan, Perdamaian and Keutuhan Ciptaan,KPKC), Synod of GKI, the Indonesian Christian Church, “Third Papuan Congress,” 21 October 2011, available in English translation at West Papua Media, http://westpapuamedia.info/2011/10/22/report-by-gki-on-third-papuan-congress-and-declaration-of-independence/
Metro TV, 19 October 2011, “Polisi Buru Peserta Kongres Pendirian Negara Papua,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eB_lHvxGdg
SKP Jayapura, “Memoria Passionis di Papua 2006,” 2008, http://www.papuaweb.org/dlib/baru/skp-2008-mp2006.pdf
TAPOL, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network, West Papua Advocacy Team, “Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage,” 20 October 2011,
TAPOL, Bulletin 183, “Papuans tortured, policemen killed,” July 2006, http://email@example.com/read/message.html?sort=a&mid=812274158
TAPOL, “Urgent Action for victims of Abepura incident,” received from John Rumbiak, 17 March 2006, http://lists.topica.com/lists/WestPapua/read/message.html?sort=d&mid=1720030651
Last updated: 4 January 2013