Protests held in several cities demanding release of Papuan political prisoners

CNN Indonesia – June 15, 2020
Tapol rally demanding release of Papuan political prisoners at Supreme Court in Jakarta – June 15, 2020 (CNN)

Jakarta – Demonstrations demanding the release of seven Papuans being tried on treason charges at the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan were not just held in Jakarta. Similar actions were also held simultaneously in several other parts of the country on Monday June 15.

“Actions were also held in Malang, Yogyakarta, Bogor, Bandung and Balikpapan”, said Rico Tude, one of the participants at a rally in Jakarta when contacted by CNN Indonesia on Monday.

In the Central Java city of Yogyakarta, a group calling themselves the People’s Solidarity Alliance for Democracy held a long-march from the Papuan student dormitory in Kamasan to the zero kilometre point in front of the central post office with the same demands.

“The main issue at this action is demonstrating solidarity to demand the release of the seven Papuan tapols [political prisoners]”, said Marwan, one of the action participants when contacted Monday.

In the West Java provincial capital of Bandung, a protest was organised by the Anti-Racism Committee (Koar). The action was held between 3 pm and 4.30 pm with a march from the Dukomsel traffic intersection to the Cikapayang intersection.

In Balikpapan, an action was held by the Youth and Student Anti-Racism Movement (Gempar) in front of the Balikpapan District Court between 1 pm and 2.30 pm.

“We are holding a peaceful action, a symbolic [action]. We will hold actions for the next three days starting from today, until the 17th (when the sentencing hearing is held)”, said Akbar, one of the action participants when contacted by CNN Indonesia.

Earlier in Jakarta on Monday afternoon, scores of people from the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (Tapol) held a demonstration in front of the Supreme Court in Central Jakarta.

“We are demanding that the state unconditionally release the seven Papuan tapols, withdraw troops from Papua and give foreign journalists access to enter Papua”, action coordinator Aldi told CNN Indonesia on Monday.

Seven Papuan youths are currently being tried in Balikpapan for their alleged involvement in protest actions in Jayapura city in August last year which ended in violence.

After arresting and charging them, the police transferred them from the Papua regional police to the East Kalimantan regional police in order to avoid potential conflict. The seven defendants are currently being tried by the Balikpapan District Court.

Former Cenderawasih University Student Executive Council (BEM) Chairperson Ferry Kombo and Jayapura University of Science and Technology BEM Chairperson Alex Gobay are facing 10-year prison sentences while Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Urobmabin are facing 5 year in prison.

United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leader Buchtar Tabuni is facing a 17-year sentence while West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairperson Steven Itlay and KNPB General Chairperson Agus Kossay are facing 15 years in prison.

According to the Balikpapan District Court Case Information Tracking System (SIPP), the preliminary hearing against the seven defendants was held on Tuesday February 11.

In the indictment they are charged with committing acts of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) as regulated under Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the KUHP. (thr/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Demo Bebaskan 7 Tapol Papua, Serentak di Berbagai Daerah”.]