Protesters in Bandung call for release of Papuan political prisoners

Jabar News – June 15, 2020
FRI-WP and AMP rally under Cikapayang flyover in Bandung – June 15, 2020 (Jabar News)

Iqbal Safana, Bandung – The Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) held an action in solidarity with seven Papuan political prisoners (tapol) who are being tried on charges of treason.

The scores of demonstrators could be seen holding a banner reading “Free the 7 Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan” with the hashtags #bebaskantapolpapua (#freepapuatapols) and #papuanlivesmatter. Not only that, the protesters also took up the issue of racism against Papuans.

One of the protesters, Boma, said that they held the solidarity action to demand the release of the seven and tell the Bandung people about political prisoners who have been victimised and are facing heavy jail sentences.

“So we are calling for the release of the Papuan tapols. Because the sentences that they face don’t fit with what happened on the ground during the demonstrations in Papua”, said Boma speaking under the Cikapayang flyover in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Monday June 15.

According to Boma, the seven Papuan political prisoners did not commit acts of racism but are victims of racism, and they are therefore asking that they be released.

“The racism which occurred last year in Surabaya [East Java] at the Papua [student] dormitory through to the demonstrations [against this] in Papua, during the demos our Papuan student comrades were arrested and after they were arrested they were transferred to Kalimantan and after being transferred they are now facing sentences which are very different from the perpetrators”, he said.

“The perpetrators [who committed the racism in Surabaya] only got sentence of between five and seven months, the Papuan victims are facing five to 17 years in prison”, he added.

Boma called on all residents of Bandung city to speak out and help free the Papuan political prisoners.

“We ourselves are here to give solidarity to the comrades who are being tried, because we fell that the legal process isn’t in accordance with what actually occurred”, he explained.

On Monday students took to the streets to call for the release of the Papuan political prisoners in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Sorong, Bandung and several other cities in Indonesia. (Rnu)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Bebaskan Tujuh Tapol Papua, FRI-WP dan AMP Lakukan Aksi di Bandung”.]