Jakarta – Papua Student Alliance (AMP) lawyer Veronica Koman has finally spoken out about being declared a suspect by the East Java provincial police for inciting an incident at the Papuan student dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya in August.
On a Facebook account seen by CNN Indonesia, Koman says that she has been criminalised and intimidated. Similar treatment is being experienced by other Papuan people.
“The police are misusing their authority and have been very excessive in their efforts to criminalise me, both in terms of their methods and exaggerating the existing facts”, said Koman on Saturday September 14.
In her explanation Koman also clarified police accusations on the student scholarship she received. Earlier, the East Java police chief accused Koman of obtaining a post-graduate scholarship in law overseas but she has never providing a report on her studies.
Koman denies that she has not accounted for the scholarship funds she received saying that she was just late in providing a study report to the foundation which provided the scholarship.
“But the matter was resolved as of June 3, 2019, when the university, the place I was studying, sent all of my study reports to the scholarship foundation”, said Koman.
In addition to this, Koman also clarified the issue of her bank accounts which police claim were used to make suspicious transactions. Koman said that the account balance was within normal limits as a lawyer who often conducts research.
“Of course it’s true I withdrew money in Papua when I was visiting there, but in amounts that are quite proper to cover the daily costs of living. I only ever went to Surabaya once in my entire life, for four days, when I provided [legal] assistance for an action on December 1, 2018 for my client the AMP”, she said.
“I consider the examination of my private bank account has no relationship with the articles I have been charged under so this is a misuse of the police’s authority, moreover [the police] then publicised this to the mass media along with a narrative that was completely overblown”, she reiterated.
Koman said that up until now she has elected not responded to the police’s accusations through the media. The aim of remaining silent has been prevent the issue being shifted away from the basic problems in Papua.
“The case of criminalisation against me is just one of so many cases of criminalisation and massive intimidation which is currently being experienced by Papuan people. An issue which is far from the uproar [surrounding the real issues in Papua]”, she said.
Earlier the East Java police updated the results of an investigation into the ownership of bank accounts in the name of Veronica Koman. After tracing two accounts belonging to Koman, East Java police chief Inspector General Luki Hermawan confirmed that there were four additional accounts, meaning that in total there are eight accounts belonging to Veronica which the police are looking into.
The East Java police have declared Koman a suspect on charges of inciting the incident at the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya. She has been charged under multiple articles from four different laws ranging from the Electronic Transactions and Information Law (UU ITE) to articles on inciting racism. Koman has been alleged to have committed the incitement through her Twitter account @veronicakoman. (mjo/wis)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Veronica Koman Buka Suara soal ‘Kriminalisasi’ Polda Jatim”.]