Suryanta asks court if police help with bus, food was assisting an act of treason

Tempo – February 11, 2020
Papuan women demonstrate at army headquarters in Jakarta – August 22, 2019 (Merdeka)

Lani Diana Wijaya, Jakarta – Papua activist Paulus Suryanta Ginting – one of six defendants being tried for treason – says that police provided logistical assistance for demonstrators protesting in front of the State Palace.

Suryanta asked the court whether the police’s actions in providing these logistics can be categorized as assisting an act of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion).

The logistical assistance referred to by Suryanta was buses and lunch for participants at Papuan demonstrations in Jakarta on August 22 and 28, 2019.

“If the protest was deemed to be a problem based on the slogans, songs, and so forth, the police assisted with buses. Doesn’t this mean that the police assisted [in an act of] makar?”, Suryanta asked the panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday February 10.

Suryanta and five other Papuan activists were arrested for alleged treason during a protest action in which the Morning Star independence flag was flown and there were calls for Papuan independence.

Suryanta's remarks were in response to a statement by one of the witnesses presented by the prosecution. The witness was former Central Jakarta District Police (Polres) Intelligence and Security Unit Chief Assistant Superintendant Danu Wiyata.

According to Suryanta, the police provided buses for the protesters to return home. Buses were provided on two occasions, namely for the actions on August 22 and August 28, 2019.

The police, Suryanta added, also offered food. The food was offered personally by the Central Jakarta Municipal Police chief on August 22.

“But I refused because I told them, the Papuan comrades would throw away any food that was given to them by the police”, he said.

According to Wiyata, the police attempted to use a humanist and persuasive approach towards the protesters, the aim being to avoid a clash between the Papuan demonstrators and police.

“Why did we go as far as providing a bus and so forth, we were simply treating them as our sisters and brothers. So we acted kindly by providing transport”, he said.

The six activists indicted in the case are Paulus Suryanta Ginting, Charles Kossay, Ambrosius Mulait, Isay Wenda, Anes Tabuni and Arina Elopere.

They were arrested by police for flying the Morning Star flag during a protest action demanding a referendum in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on August 28 last year.

The public prosecutor is charging Suryanta and his colleagues under two alternative articles, namely Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph 1 (1) of the KUHP on makar and Article 110 Paragraph 1 of the KUHP on criminal conspiracy.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Polisi Tawarkan Bus dan Makan, Aktivis Papua: Bukan Bantu Makar?”.]