Bangun Santoso and Stephanus Aranditio – Surya Anta Ginting and five other Papuan political prisoners will face a sentence hearing at the Central Jakarta District Court today on Friday April 24. The prosecution has demanding a sentence of one year and five months jail on charges of committing treason.
The six Papuan defendants are Surya Anta Ginting (39), Anes Tabuni alias Dano Anes Tabuni (31), Charles Kossay (26), Ambrosius Mulait (25), Isay Wenda (25) and Arina Elopere alias Wenebita Gwijangge (20).
They have been detained for eight months since being arrested on August 30-31, 2019 on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) following a peaceful action in front of the State Palace on August 28. The rally was held to protest racism against Papuans following an incident at a Papuan student dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya.
They have been attending court hearings since early 2020. In reading out the charges, the public prosecutor demanded that the six Papuan political prisoners be jailed for one year and five months jail on charges related to Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph 1 of the KUHP (1) on makar.
“The verdict will be read out on Friday, April 24, 2020, at 1 pm until the conclusion of the hearing at the Central Jakarta District Court”, said the lawyer representing the six, Michael Hilman.
Hilman said that the six should be released because the Papuan activists who held the rally on August 28 are protected under Law Number 9/1998 on the Freedom to Express an Opinion in Public.
“They fulfilled the requirements as good citizens, delivering a prior notification of the action [to police], then after the action they were facilitated by the police, provided with food, provided with a Kopaja public bus to take them home, but several days later they were named suspects without being declared witnesses first, the charges were extraordinary, makar”, said Hilman at a discussion titled Free the Political Prisoners and the Future of Democracy in Indonesia, which was broadcast via YouTube on Wednesday April 22.
He said that during the court hearings there were clear irregularities. According to Hilman the hearings were unfair because the material evidence and expert witnesses were unable to prove that an act of makar had taken place.
“The makar articles were chosen as a tool to silence the Papuan civil movement and activists, during the trial the definition of makar was also not able to be clarified properly or in detail by the JPU [public prosecutor]. This was also not able to be proven by the material evidence”, he explained.
Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman meanwhile – who is currently residing in Australia and faces charges of incitement at home – also hopes that the court will free Surya Anta and his colleagues even though Vero, as she is known, said that justice for Papuan people has never been found in an Indonesian court.
“Remember, no matter how good you draft a document you’ll still lose because this is a court of the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia], meaning justice cannot be found in an Indonesian court, so we use the principle of fighting as best we can”, said Koman during the discussion.
The six Papuan political prisoners were arrested by police on August 30-31 on charges of makar. The case was then examined at the Central Jakarta District Court under Registration Number 1303/Pid.B/2019/PN Jkt.Pst.
The case began when Surya Anta and his colleagues held a demonstration in front of the army headquarters on August 22 and the State Place in August 28 in response to alleged racist slurs against Papuan students in Surabaya.
During the rally, the protesters demanded that the racist acts be investigated immediately and called for a referendum on Papuan independence.
As has been reported, during the demonstration the Morning Star independence flag was flown. It was because of this that Surya Anta and his colleagues were arrested for allegedly being the initiators of both actions.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “6 Tapol Papua Surya Anta Cs Hadapi Sidang Vonis Siang Ini di PN Jakpus”.]