Students in Aceh demand Widodo release 7 Papuan political prisoners

Source – June 15, 2020
Aceh-Papua Student Association members in Banda Aceh – June 15, 2020 (Suara)

RR Ukirsari Manggalani and Stephanus Aranditio – The Papua-Aceh Student Association (HIMAPA) in the Achenese provincial capital of Banda Aceh is urging President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to unconditionally release all Papuan political prisoners.

The group said that the sentences being demanded by the public prosecutor for seven Papuan treason defendants at the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan are racist.

HIMAPA Chairperson Yuspani Asemki said that the seven Papuan tapols (political prisoners) who will face a sentence hearing on Wednesday June 17 are facing heavy prison sentences which are unjust.

This is because the perpetrators of racism, namely rogue TNI (Indonesian military) and police officers along with mass organisations at the Papua student dormitory in Surabaya, only received light sentences.

“[We] ask the Bapak [Mr] President of the Republic of Indonesia Ir. Joko Widodo to unconditionally release Papuan political prisoners throughout Indonesia, particularly the seven tapols who are victims of racism and are currently being tried in East Kalimantan”, said Asemki in a statement on Monday June 15.

The request, which was also addressed to Papua Governor Lukas Enembe, Papuan Regional House of Representatives (DPRP) Speaker Jhony Banua Rouw and Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) Speaker Timotius Murib, included an appeal to the public prosecutor to reconsider the heavy sentences.

Asemki said that if the request is not fulfilled then the Papua Student Alliance will hold anti-racist demonstrations similar to those organised in August and September last year.

“If the points above are not heeded before the verdict is handed down (on June 17), then we will hold a second round of demonstrations against racism. If the state does not respond seriously, then we, all of the Papuan student alliances, will take to the streets for anti-racism Chapter II”, he asserted.

The seven Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan are facing different sentences. Former University of Cendrawasih Student Executive Council (BEM) Chairperson Ferry Kombo and Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ) Student President Alex Gobay are facing 10-year sentences while Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Urobmabin are facing five years in prison.

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

Over a series of hearings at the Balikpapan District Court between June 2-5 the public prosecutor has indicted all seven under Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the KUHP on makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) over their involvement in protest actions in Jayapura city in August 2019 which were held to protest racism against Papuan students in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya.

The seven Papuan political prisoners are being held at the Balikpapan class II penitentiary on grounds of security. They have been undergoing trial at the Balikpapan District Court since January.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Mahasiswa di Aceh Minta Jokowi Bebaskan 7 Tapol Papua”.]