Yance Mote is an activist who was involved with the West Papuan National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), an organisation which notably organises mass demonstrations calling for a referendum on West Papua’s future. He was arrested for addressing one of these demonstrations, charged with treason, but later found guilty only of the lesser charge of incitement, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
The first large demonstrations the KNPB organised were in 2008. Indonesian elections were to be held in 2009, so the KNPB organised a demonstration on 10 March of that year, demanding a referendum on West Papuan independence instead of participating in Indonesian elections. Although there were no arrests at the demonstration, some weeks later on 3 April, Serafin Diaz was arrested with Mako Tabuni as they descended from the passenger ship KM Labobar in Jayapura port. Local newspaper Cenderawasih Pos carried a report of the arrest, mentioning that in a press conference that day that the police had linked the arrests to the 10 March demonstration.
One hour later, according to a report by the Alliance for Democracy in Papua (Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua, ALDP), police conducted a raid on the compound of the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua, DAP). Here they arrested fifteen people. The ALDP report explains that since they were evicted from the area around Theys Eluay’s grave, young KNPB activists often gathered at the DAP compound. Fourteen of the men and women arrested were released the next day, but Yance Mote was held in prison and tried alongside Mr Tabuni and Mr Diaz. All three were charged with articles 106 and 160 of the Indonesian criminal code, which refer to treason and incitement.
According to the ALDP report, during the raid property and equipment belonging to DAP were broken and seized as evidence, including computers. Police also claimed to have found two firearms in a bag belonging to two women, which both they and the other arrestees repeatedly claimed never to have seen. Witness reports also suggest that the pistols may have been planted by police at the time. The two women were obliged to report regularly to the police station, but they were never tried.
Court documents made available by the Supreme Court give an outline of the case against the three men as it progressed through the different levels of the court system. Mr Diaz and Mr Mote were accused of having made speeches at the demonstration. The principal allegation against Mr Tabuni was that he had hired a taxi and installed a loudspeaker on its roof which was used to address the crowds. All three were eventually cleared of the treason charges, but sentenced to 18 months in prison for incitement.
In an obituary of Mr Tabuni, who was shot dead by security forces in June 2012, news portal Berita Satu reported that Mr Tabuni was released on parole on 28 January 2010 while an appeal was still pending in the Supreme Court, as the court had not issued an order for his continued detention. According to a submission by Human Rights Watch to a US government committee, as of September 2010 Mr Diaz and Mr Mote had also been released pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Alliance for Democracy in Papua,” Penggrebekan, penggeledahan, Penyergapan ataukah Sweeping ‘biasa’?,” 6 April 2009, http://andawat-papua.blogspot.com/2009/04/penggrebekanpenggeledahan-penyergapan.html
part 2: http://andawat-papua.blogspot.com/2009/04/penggrebekan-penggeledahan-penyergapan_08.html (hint text colour same as background colour: select text to read it)
Berita Satu (articles compiled and republised by Elsham Papua), “Pinang Terakhir Mako Tabuni,” 22 June 2012, http://www.elshampapua.org/index.php/31-profil/126-pinang-terakhir-mako-tabuni
Cenderawasih Pos, “2 Aktivis KNPB diringkus polisi,” 4 April 2009, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/tribal-melanesia/message/4377
Mahkamah Agung Indonesia, 10 May 2010, decision, http://putusan.mahkamahagung.go.id/putusan/downloadpdf/0ee47218c3031a28095eac3dbe84fed0/pdf
Sophie Richardson, “Crimes against humanity: when will Indonesia be held accountable for deliberate and systematic abuses in West Papua?” Human Rights Watch, 22 September 2010