Jakarta – Five of the Papua activists taking part in the first court hearing in a treason case at the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday December 16 wore traditional kari-kari headdresses from the eastern most part of Indonesia.
The five students, namely Issay Wenda, Arina Elopere, Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni could be seen wearing the kari-kari in court.
Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) spokesperson Surya Anta meanwhile did not wear traditional Papuan attire, just a plain white shirt instead.
And it was not just kari-kari head dresses that the activists wore during the first hearing on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) which they attended today.
The political prisoners also adorned their bodies and faces with white patterns drawn from toothpaste as symbols of cultural identity from the land of the Cenderawasih as Papua is known.
“We want to respect this hearing, we want to show our cultural [identity]”, said Tabuni at the Central Jakarta District Court.
Throughout the hearing, the six defendants appeared relaxed and calm. They were supported by a number of students and other Papuan people who attended the hearing.
Visible in the public gallery was Anta’s wife Lucia Fransisca, who is assisting her husband during the trial. The public gallery was full since the start of the hearing.
In addition to this, when Anta and the other defendants exited the court room, shouts calling for the political prisoners to be released immediately could also be heard.
Anta insists that they did not commit treason as claimed by the authorities. He also stated that they did not act in an anarchic manner during a protest in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on August 28 which resulted in them being arrested by police.
“Don’t stifle democracy by jailing people. We didn’t commit treason. We held a peaceful action”, Anta told journalists in the court room.
The panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court postponed the first hearing which was to hear the reading out of the charges against the six Papua political prisoners because the public prosecutor had failed to provide the case dossiers and charge sheets to the defendants by the time the hearing began.
“So we are postponing the hearing until Thursday, the 19th [December 19] to hear the reading of the charges, said presiding judge Agustinus Setya Wahyu Triwiranto as he struck the gavel and ended proceedings.
The team of lawyers representing Anta and the other defendants has yet to receive the case dossiers for all of the defendants. They have only received the charge sheets for Dano Tabuni and Arina Elopere. (mjo/kid)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Topi Kari-kari, Simbol Semangat Aktivis Papua di Sidang Awal”.]