Lawyers assert Jakarta Six criminalised for excursing their freedom of expression

Tempo – January 7, 2020
Court reprimands Papua defendant for wearing penis gourd – January 6, 2020 (Kompas)

M Julnis Firmansyah, Jakarta – One of the lawyers representing six Papua activists being tried for treason, Annisa Rizky, says that her clients are being criminalised for excursing their freedom of expression.

Because, according to Rizky, the six Papua activists were expressing an opinion in public with good intent, not committing makar (treason, subversion, rebellion).

“The team of lawyers has concluded that what has happened is the criminalisation of the defendants for peacefully expressing themselves which is guaranteed under the law”, said Rizky when reading out a demurrer at the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday January 6.

Rizky explained that the term makar in Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) is a translation of the Dutch term aanslag. According to legal experts, she continued, the meaning of aanslag is an attack.

The other article which regulates the issue of makar, according to the lawyers, is Article 87 of the KUHP. In this article it states that makar is an action which from the start is committed with the intent to attack the territorial state or the administration as referred to under Article 53 of the KUHP.

The contents of this article however are different from what the defendants did and the indictment against the six. The fact is, said Rizky, the defendants were simply expressing an opinion in public peacefully and with good intent.

“But in the indictment and case dossiers there is no reference to a violent attack or attempt at a violent attack against the government, state officials, civil society or other public facilities”, she explained.

Rizky continued saying that the defendants also followed regulations as embodies under Law Number 9/1998 on Freedom of Expressing an Opinion in Public. One element of this was that they submitted a written notification with the Metro Jaya regional police intelligence and security division on the planned demonstration.

Moreover, she continued, on the day that they conveyed their opinion, the police watching over the rally did not attempt to break up the demonstration.

She again asserted that the defendants did not damage any public facilities, commit violence or any other crime during the demonstration.

Earlier, the six Papuan activists were indicted on charges based on two alternative articles. First, Article 106 of the KUHP in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph 1 of the KUHP which regulate the issue of makar. Second, Article 110 Paragraph 1 of the KUHP on criminal conspiracy.

The six Papuan activists are being tried in three different groups. The First group of defendants comprises Paulus Suryanta Ginting (Surya Anta), Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait and Isay Wenda.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Eksepsi 6 Aktivis Papua, Tudingan Makar Dinilai Kriminalisasi”.]