Maria Baru, Sorong City – At least 31 human rights and pro-democracy organisations have urged the Indonesian government and the police to immediately release West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson Victor Yeimo (VY) from all charges.
The 31 organisations conveyed this in a press release received by Suara Papua on May 18, bearing in mind that the arrest and detention of Yeimo is seen as violating freedom of expression and will further worsen the domestic social and political situation in the eyes of the international community.
The groups also asserted that the arrest and criminalisation of Yeimo through the makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) articles will become a huge obstacle to finding a peaceful political solution to the Papua problem which has been worsening of late.
"The Indonesian government has a human rights obligation to differentiate between the threat of violence by pro-independence armed groups, which can be responded to by law enforcement, and peaceful political expression which is protected by international human rights norms and standards which are acknowledged by Indonesia itself, specifically through the ratification of the International Convention on Civil And Political Rights (ICCPR)", read the press release.
The organisations say that using the makar statutes under Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) against Yeimo is a violation of freedom of expression for both activists in Indonesia in general as well as activists in Papua specifically.
Papua human rights activists and director of the People's Earth Heritage Foundation (Pusaka), Franky Samperante, said that the criminalisation of Yeimo appears to have a political motive.
"We believe that the criminalisation of VY is because the Indonesian government has continually failed to resolve the root cause of the problems in the land of Papua. An example, to this day the government has not resolved the practice of racism against the Papuan people both by government officials as well as other intolerant people. In addition to this, blaming VY and his other Papua political activist comrades for the riots and violence in different parts of Papua following the racist incident in August 2019 in Java is not only wrong, but counter-productive in resolving political tensions in the land of Papua", explained Samperante.
Because of this, the Indonesian government and the Papua regional police must immediately and unconditionally release Yeimo. The groups also called on the Papua regional police chief to stop torturing and or mistreating Yeimo and guarantee that his mental and physical health remain intact during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The treatment of VY will continue to be monitored by all human rights organisations in Papua, nationally, internationally and by the Papuan people", he said.
The pro-democracy organisations also urged the Papuan police chief give lawyers the broadest possible access to Yeimo.
"The Indonesian government has been repeatedly and firmly warned by the international community and human rights organisations that despite having to confront pubic order and security disturbances from attacks by armed groups [they must not respond excessively]", asserted Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) Chairperson Imanuel Gobay.
Although the groups acknowledge the disturbances and threats by armed pro-independence groups in Papua, documentation and monitoring by human rights organisations shows that often the response by security forces, both the police, military as well as intelligence agencies, is excessive and that they enjoy impunity when serious human rights violations are committed against Papuan civilians on the pretext of fighting the separatist movement.
"Declaring pro-independence armed groups terrorist organisations is an example of a state policy which is excessive", they asserted.
The 31 organisations supporting Yeimo's release said that they do not take a partisan position on any one political solution to the status of Papua or other provinces in Indonesia, but that they are responding in accordance with international human rights standards and that all peaceful political aspirations about Papua are the right to freedom of expression and thinking.
They also asserted that if the Indonesian government still claims that it is a democratic country which respects human rights, then it must immediately release Yeimo because this is something it is obliged to do.
They continued saying that the Indonesian government must immediately stop using a security approach and stop making arrests without following procedures. "The state should provide a sense of justice, a sense of peace and resolve all case of human rights violations in the Land of Papua between 1961 and 2021", they asked.
The following 31 organisations are supporting the release of Victor Yeimo:
1. Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
2. The Democratic Alliance for Papua (AIDP)
3. The Greater Sorong Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN Sorong Raya)
4. Amnesty International Indonesia (AII)
5. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Federation
6. The Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua)
7. The West Papua Independent Student Forum
8. The Tambrauw Peace Loving Intellectuals Forum
9. The Papuan People's Democratic Movement (Garda Papua)
10. Greenpeace Indonesia
11. The Papua Working People's Network for the Protection of Natural Resources, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (JERAT Papua)|
12. The Franciscans Office for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Ordo Fratrum Minorum (JPIC OFM Indonesia)
13. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras)
14. The Papua Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras)
15. The Land of Papua Peace and Unity of Creation Synod of the Papua Injili Christian Church (KPKC Sinode GKI)
16. The Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (ELSAM)
17. The Papua Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Papua)
18. The Manokwari Legal Aid Assessment, Research and Development Institute (LP3BH Manokwari)
19. Papua This Is Us (PapuaItuKita)
20. The Papua Human Rights Lawyers Association (PAHAM Papua)
21. The Paritas Institute
22. The Papua Archipelago Landscape Association (Bentara Papua)
23. The Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)
24. The Timika Diocese Justice and Peace Secretariat
25. The Fransiskan Papua Secretariat for Justice and Peace (SKPKC)
26. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment National Executive (Walhi)
27. The Papua Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi Papua)
28. The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI)
29. The Indonesian Human Protection Foundation (YPII)
30. The People's Earth Heritage Foundation (Pusaka)
31. The One Justice Foundation
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "31 Organisasi Pro HAM Desak Pemerintah dan Polri Bebaskan Victor Yeimo".]