In emotional speech, Surya Anta asks court ‘has reformasi gone backwards’

CNN Indonesia – December 19, 2019
Papua treason defendants sing ‘Mysterious Life’ at Central Jakarta District Court – December 19, 2019 (Antara)

Jakarta – Surya Anta and five other Papua activists heard the formal charges against them during the first hearing at the Central Jakarta District Court on Thursday December 19. Following their arraignment, Anta and the other defendants presented emotional speeches to the court.

“People who talk about humanity are silenced, moreover after more than 20 years of reformasi [the democratic reform process that began in 1998] we are still being silenced, we must ask ourselves, is this the era of colonialism, an era of fascism, the era of [Suharto’s] New Order [dictatorship] or the era of reformasi, has reformasi gone backwards?”, asked Anta.

During his speech, Anta and several of the other defendants shed tears, although Anta continued his speech despite being choked by emotion. According to Ana, for a people and a nation, being civilised is to have humanitarian values in one’s heart and actions.

“[How can we be civilised] if humanitarian values no longer exist in our hearts and actions, because we are afraid of speaking out, despite us speaking peacefully, because behind us are the makar articles, there are the weapons, there are the jails, and there are the isolation cells”, said Anta.

“Then tomorrow we will see, people with black skin and curly hair, minorities, people with yellow skin and narrow eyes, the poor, will no longer have anyone to defend them”, he said to shouts of support from the crowd in the public gallery.

The six defendants, Surya Anta along with Issay Wenda, Arina Elopere, Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Tabuni have been charged with makar (treason, rebellion, treason) and criminal conspiracy for flying the Morning Star independence flag during a rally in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on August 28.

Constitutional right

Following the arraignment, Anta and his colleagues wanted to present a demurrer (eksepsi) rejecting the prosecution’s charges. The panel of judges however adjourned the hearing until Thursday January 2.

“So that the eksepsi can be made jointly, the hearing is adjourned until January 2, 2020”, said presiding judge Agustinus Setya Wahyu Triwiranto.

The prosecution has charged Anta and the other five Papua activists with makar and criminal conspiracy. The prosecutor said that the actions of the six defendants were aimed at separating Papua and West Papua provinces from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

Prior to committing makar, the prosecution also said that the six committed a criminal conspiracy by planning to commit makar.

Anta had an opportunity to give a response after hearing the prosecution’s charges. He questioned the indictment against him.

“Specifically and in particular, was my presence at the action a form of makar? For as long as I have been an activist, [holding an] action has been a right. Demanding something from the state is a constitutional right”, said Anta. (yoa/osc)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Surya Anta Orasi dan Menangis: Apakah Reformasi Sudah Mundur?”.]