Allegations of intervention after Jakarta Six release cancelled at last minute

Source – May 12, 2020
Ambrosius Mulait, Dano Tabuni and Surya Anta at Central Jakarta District Court – February 17, 2020 (Surara)

Dwi Bowo Raharjo and Stephanus Aranditio – The release and reintegration of five out of six Papuan political prisoners (tapol) was suddenly cancelled today, Tuesday May 12. Supporters say they are being screwed over by the Indonesian state.

The five political prisoners who should have been released today are Surya Anta Ginting (39), Anes Tabuni alias Dano Anes Tabuni (31), Charles Kossay (26) and Ambrosius Mulait (25), who are being detained at the Salemba prison in Jakarta, along with Arina Elopere alias Wenebita Gwijangge (20) who is being held at the Pondok Bambu prison.

United Student Front (FMB) spokesperson Reverend Suarbudaya Rahadian believes that the five political prisoners are being screwed over by the government, because they have already fulfilled the requirements for conditional release based on Justice and Human Rights Minister Decree Number M.HH-19.PK.01.04.04 on the release and reintegration of prisoners and juvenile inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Their release was imminent, then the powers that be intervened in the law hence the incident today, the state is playing a prank on the Papuan tapols”, Suarbudaya told on Tuesday.

Suarbudaya said that the ministerial decree signed by Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly is discriminatory because it is not being applied to prisoners whose political views are different from the government.

“If it’s not discriminative what else to you call it Pak [Mr] Yasonna? People who are deemed to have conflicting political positions, are still detained? Yet 12 people are already suspected of being positive for corona at the Pondok Bambu prison, we don’t how many there are at Salemba yet”, he said.

The five political prisoners were due for release on May 28 but on May 11, prison officials declared that the five would be freed under the release and re-assimilation policy to prevent the spread of corona.

“I can’t stop thinking that if indeed they weren’t going be freed why (were the tapols) yesterday on Monday May 11 ordered to get their things together, given a rapid test, signed the register and so forth”, said Suarbudaya.

Yet the five had already packed and were in the jail’s transit room ready to go home, and then suddenly at 2pm, a registration official called them back and stated that their release had been cancelled so they would not be released today.

“The reason was that the ‘tapols committed a crime against state security’ which conflicts with Government Regulation Number 99/2012 on the Regulations and Rights of Penitentiary Inmates”, said Papua Advocacy Team lawyer Michael Himan.

Because of this, the five political prisons will have to remain in jail for around two more weeks and will only be eligible for release on May 28.

The Papua Advocacy Team suspects there was political pressure behind the cancellation as there was when the Papuan activists were tried and sentenced.

They are also asking the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to investigate the decision taken by the Justice and Human Rights Ministry and the Director General for Prisons.

Meanwhile the sixth political prisoner, Isay Wenda (25), who was sentenced to eight months jail minus time in detention, was released earlier on April 24.

On April 25 the panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court ruled that the six had been found guilty of violating Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph 1 of the KUHP (1) on makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) for holding a peaceful protest action in front of the State Palace on August 28, 2019 protesting racism against Papua students in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Batal Bebas dari Penjara, Tahanan Politik Papua Diprank Negara”.]