Jakarta – Human rights activist Haris Azhar says that that he was not looking to create a problem with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan over the issue of gold mining in Intan Jaya regency, Papua.
This was conveyed by Azhar in response to Pandjaitan's testimony during a court hearing in a case of alleged defamation brought by Pandjaitan against Azhar and fellow rights activist Fatia Maulidiyanti at the East Java District court on Thursday June 8.
"I'm not looking to create problems with bapak [you], I'm just sad seeing [the situation facing] the Papuan people", said Azhar in a trembling voice.
Azhar said that the people of Intan Jaya have had to walk on foot into the mountains for two hours to avoid armed conflicts in the region. According to Azhar, no one cares about these refugees.
"That's the problem, they have to climb up the mountains for two hours, eight of their districts, not four. There's no one to take care of these refugees and there's the Freeport [gold and copper mine] there, there are soldiers", he said.
Pandjaitan's supporters in the court meanwhile shouted and jeered at Azhar hearing his voice tremble as he related the conditions of the Papuan people. Azhar said he didn't want to be pitied.
"For all of you who think I am crying, I am not begging for mercy, go ahead and punish me. I consider this stage to be my place to speak out. If you cry because you laugh at Papuans, then leave this courtroom", he said.
He further admitted that he was not afraid of the consequences that he would face in the future for articulating justice for the people of Papua.
"I'm not afraid of anyone, [I'll] talk about justice and humanity with anyone, people have often wanted to shoot me", he said.
Shouting and jeering
The crowd of pro-Pandjaitan supporters could be seen dominating the visitors' benches in the courtroom on Thursday and showed their support by loudly shouting and jeering when Azhar and Maulidiyanti's lawyer directed questions at Pandjaitan.
Most of the pro-Pandjaitan group wore white collared shirts with the Bravo 5 emblem of the President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo volunteer group headed by Pandjaitan on the right chest. They were seated on the visitors' bench to the left and right of the courtroom.
Azhar and Maulidiyanti's supporters meanwhile sat on benches on the rights side, mixing in with Pandjaitan's supporters.
Azhar and Maulidiyanti are currently standing trial for alleged defamation against Pandjaitan.
In his indictment, the public prosecutor (JPU) said that statements made by Azhar and Maulidiyanti in a video uploaded on Azhar's YouTube channel had brought Pandjaitan's good name into disrepute.
The video titled There is Lord Luhut behind the Economic Relations-Military Operations in Intan Jaya!! There are also State Intelligence Agency Generals!! discusses the results of a brief study by the Clean Indonesia Coalition entitled The Economics and Politics of Military Deployment in Papua: The Case of Intan Jaya.
Azhar and Maulidiyanti have been charged under Article 27 Paragraph (3) in conjunction with Article 45 Paragraph (3) of the Information and Electronic Transaction (ITE) Law, Article 14 Paragraph (2) and Article 15 of Law Number 1/1946 and Article 310 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on defamation. (mab/fra)
[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles published by CNN Indonesia on June 8. The original title of the lead article was "Haris Azhar di Depan Luhut: Saya Bukan Cari Musuh Sama Bapak".]