Protesters demand Surya Anta’s release as pre-trial suit hearing opens in Jakarta

CNN Indonesia – November 11, 2019
FMB solidarity action at South Jakarta District Court – November 11, 2019 (CNN)
FMB solidarity action at South Jakarta District Court – November 11, 2019 (CNN)

Jakarta – Scores of students from the United Student Front (FMB) held an action at the South Jakarta District Court on Monday November 11. The students from Papua, Jakarta and other parts of the country were protesting the arrest of six Papua activists – including Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) spokesperson Surya Anta Ginting – who were attending a pre-trial suit at the court today.

Holding posters with calls for their release, they also wrote the names of each of the Papua activists who have been charged with makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) and are currently being detained at the Mobile Brigade Command Headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Kelapa Dua, Depok.

The six Papua activists are Paulus Surya Anta Ginting, Anes Tabuni, Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait, Isay Wenda and Arina Elopere. Five of the activists, with the exception of Anta, are students.

“Free Charles Kossay” read one of the posters with a black background. In addition to protesting in front of the South Jakarta District Court, several student representatives took part in observing Anta’s pre-trial hearing from inside the court room.

Protest coordinator Sutito Yofanka invited all civil society groups to join in calling for the release of the six activists.

“These demands are in response to the current political upheaval. We leave it up to civil society elements from university students, workers, farmers, fisherpeople, the urban poor, high-school students to other civil society groups. Let us join together to build an alternative political force as a challenge [to the establishment]”, said Tito – as Yofanka is known – in front of the court on Monday.

There were 11 other demands taken up by the students, seven of which were the same as those taken up by the wave of mass protests that broke out around the country in late September.

Aside from demanding the release of the Papua activists, the other demands were against the criminalisation of the student movement and urging the police to immediately provide access to data on the victims of the repression against the protesting university students, high-school students and civil society activists in September.

The students also claimed that information on the fate of several of their colleagues is still unclear and the data held by several civil society organisations is conflicting.

These demands were also articulated because they relate to threats against freedom of expression and opinion. The arrest and detention of the six Papua activists are also seen as one of the methods used by the repressive state to crack down on the people’s movements.

“With all the tools that the authorities have, the movement is being silenced by various means. Starting with the arrest of Papua activists, the mass arrest of students during the September 23-30 protest actions to the killing of students”, said the FMB in a written statement.

The FMB is an alliance of students from various universities including the Bung Karno University, the Jakarta Political and Social Sciences Institute (IISIP Jakarta), the National University, the Pancasila University, the Perbanas Institute, the PGRI Indraprasta University (Unindra) and the Gunadarma University. (ika)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Demo Mahasiswa Warnai Sidang Aktivis Papua Surya Anta”.]