Papua activist Victor Yeimo wants end to criminalisation of Haris and Fatia

Suara Papua – December 7, 2023
KNPB international spokesperson Victor Yeimo – Undated (SP)

Elisa Sekenyap, Jayapura – West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson Victor Yeimo is asking the Indonesian government to stop the criminalisation of human rights activists Haris Azhar and Fatia Maulidiyanti.

"I'm asking the government of the Republic of Indonesia, [Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment] Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (Menko Marves) and the (East) Jakarta District Court judges to stop the criminalisation of Haris and Fatia, stop political repression and militaristic [operations] in our homeland (Papua), and stop censoring critical voices by any person, including Haris and Fatia", said Yeimo in a statement sent to Suara Papua in Jayapura on Monday December 4.

Yeimo is a former Papuan political prisoner who was imprisoned for makar (treason, rebellion, subversion). He was released from the Abepura Correctional Institution in Jayapura city on Saturday September 23.

Yeimo was indicted under the makar articles because he was alleged to have organised demonstrations in Jayapura in 2019 on August 19 and 29 to protest racist slurs directed against Papuan students at the Kamasan III Papua student dormitory in Surabaya, East Java, on August 16, 2019.

Yeimo declared in his statement that enough Papuan voices have been silenced, including his own, for fighting racism.

"It is enough for us Papuans who have continued to be silenced. Including me as one of those who was imprisoned and only recently set free, for fighting the racism happening in Indonesia. Therefore stop the criminalization of Haris and Fatia, stop simplifying the Papua problem which sees Papua as being secure – as if nothing's happening in Papua. What was conveyed by Haris and Fatia was true based on the facts and data".

"They are entitled to criticise this. We are the people of Papuan, we experience, we see, we hear it in our own homeland. What Haris and Fatia said were facts that are true and they have the right to defend the Papuan people".

"We, the people of Papua [and] whoever is in the land of Papua will truly support and defend Haris and Fatia."

"Therefore, I hope that the people of Papua, if other nations defend the oppression that occurs in our homeland, we the Papuan nation are obliged to support them when they (Haris and Fatia) are criminalised, when they are repressed, when democratic space is truly curbed. The struggle to create democracy in Indonesia, in Papua is a mutual struggle", said Yeimo.

Therefore Yeimo stated, they will not retreat, but will continue to advance and uphold democracy.

"Therefore we will not retreat, will continue to advance – democracy is truly part of the rights of everyone who is in the land of Papua as well as Indonesia. Because of this, once again, free Haris and Fatia", concluded Yeimo.

The criminalisation of Maulidiyanti (the coordinator of Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) for the period 2020-2023) and Azhar (the founder of the Lokataru Foundation for Human Rights) has entered the stage of the prosecution's response to the defendants' defense speeches (replik) being read out in the East Java District Court on December 4.

In the replik, the prosecution said that Azhar and Maulidiyanti were in error and wrong in understanding the facts of the case and had buried the truth and facts.

The prosecutor also argued that the principle of equality before the law had been applied and the trial had been held without favoritism in rejecting the defense speeches delivered by Azhar and Maulidiyanti along with their legal advisors.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Victor Yeimo: Hentikan Kriminalisasi Haris dan Fatia".]