Release Papuan political prisoners, give Papuans the right to self-determination

FRI-WP/AMP – January 2, 2020
Surya Anta and Papuan political prisoners on trial in Jakarta – December 16, 2019 (Detik)

Waa... waa... waa... waa... waa... waa... waa... waa... waa... waaa!

Since West Papua was annexed and became part of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), the human rights situation has worsened. Indonesia continues to prioritise a militaristic approach and pursue racially discriminative practices. It continues to arrest, kill, rape and jail student activists and the West Papuan people.

Meanwhile Indonesia maintains an unending barrage of propaganda in the mainstream media to cover the exploitation and exploration of Papua’s natural resources and distorting information about torture, slow-motion genocide, illegal logging businesses, the sale of liquor and surveillance of the West Papua activist movement.

Military operations such as those in Nduga, which have now entered their second year, have resulted in 37,000 people fleeing the regency and the death of 242 people.

Still vivid in our memories is the incident at the Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya, East Java, in August last year, when West Papuan comrades were forced to show that they felt part of Indonesia. After being forced to fly the red-and-white national flag, they were slandered after the flag pole was later found broken and the flag thrown into a drain. They were then attacked by a group of people affiliated with reactionary organisations, threatened, expelled from their dormitory and taunted with racist slurs which triggered widespread protests both in Indonesia as well as West Papua.

And like previous incidents, the state manipulated this to portray the protests as riots resulting in the loss of life, the leadership of the West Papua independence movement was scapegoated, hunted down and arbitrarily arrested.

In August, some 6,000 troops were sent to Papua. Then between December 12 and 18 another 9,000 troops were deployed and on December 28, 400 more were sent to various regencies in Papua such as Intan Jaya and Paniai which received 1,000 personnel each. These troop deployments created fear and trauma in communities during Christmas celebrations.

In 2019, there were at least 104 political prisoners, 41 of which were arrested on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion). One of them is Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) spokesperson Surya Anta Ginting.

Most were detained for organising or being involved in protest actions against racist and discriminatory abuse against the Papuan students in Surabaya, Malang (also in East Java) and other parts of Indonesia. Incidents where the masterminds and the perpetrators were provoked by police.

These Papuan political activists were never summoned as witnesses first, as required by law, but immediately declared suspects (charged). Meanwhile based on reports of the arrests, many violated procedures where arrests were made without sufficient preliminary evidence as required under Article 17 of the Criminal Procedural Code (KUHAP).

On December 19, six Papuan political prisoners were brought before the Central Jakarta District Court for an arraignment hearing where they were formally charged with makar and criminal conspiracy.

This widespread repression has not just been at the hands of the police and TNI (Indonesian military) – although most violations are committed by the security forces – but has also spread to the academic world, as in the case of what happened at the Khairun University (Unkhair) in Ternate, North Maluku.

On December 12, without giving any clear reasons, the university rector suspended four students who were accused of inappropriate behaviour with the intent of committing makar and disturbing public order.

The four students were Arbi M. Nur, Fahyudi Marsaoly, Ikra Alaktiri and Fahrul Abdul, which according to the rector’s official letter, where expelled for holding a peaceful demonstration under the theme “Commemorating 58 years since the West Papuan People’s Declaration of Independence”, which was held on December 2 at the Muhammadiyah University campus in Ternate.

Unkhair, as an educational instruction and an extension of the hands of the state should hold human rights and democracy in the highest regard and provide space to all individuals and students to be free to speak out about what they believe. The scientific truth and disagreement by each person must be tested through open and scientific dialogue.

If not, what were our reasons as a nation for ratifying international conventions on human rights, for promoting the Constitution and the articles on human rights which are implemented in laws to guarantee people’s rights. These have never been realised in academic life which restricts people speaking out and expressing themselves by the threat of being dropped out.

In creating an education system which is clean, prioritises academic freedom, enlightens national life and fulfills the human rights of all people, all peaceful protest actions and demonstrations by students and other people must be seen as an expression of rights which are protected by the Constitution and derivative laws including the statutes of Unkhair itself. So that repressive acts which stifle the right to freedom of expression must be regarded as the enemy of all people and a warning to uphold democracy and human rights.

Based on the above, we assert, in the name of democratic space, academic and intellectual freedom, that we, the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua and the Papuan Student’s Alliance (AMP):

  • Demand that the Khairun Rector revoke letter Number 1860/UN44/KP/2019 expelling the four Khairun students.
  • Demand that Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Anwar Makarim dismiss the Unkhair rector who has attacked students’ right of assembly, freedom of expression and opinion, as guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • Call for guarantees of academic freedom in accordance with the mandate of the Constitution.
  • Call for solidarity to support freedom of expression, assembly and association.
  • Demand that the Khairun campus administration be held responsible for the use of violence in forcibly breaking up a campus democracy struggle solidarity action on Monday December 30, 2019.
  • Demand that the right of self-determination be given to the West Papuan nation as the most democratic solution.
  • Call for the withdrawal of all organic and non-organic Indonesian police and military from the land of West Papua.
  • Demand the closure of Freeport, BP, LNG Tangguh, the MNC LNG plant, the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) and other projects which are the masterminds of crimes against humanity in the land of West Papua.
  • Demand a guarantee of free access for national and international journalists to enter and report in West Papua.
  • Demand the unconditional release of all Papuan political prisoners including Surya Anta Ginting!

For the support, participation and cooperation of all parties in drafting this statement, we express our thanks.

Viva West Papua national liberation!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP).

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Cabut SK DO Empat Mahasiswa Unkhair Ternate dan Bebaskan Tahanan Politik Papua serta Berikan Hak Penentuan Nasib Sendiri Sebagai Solusi Demokratis Bagi Rakyat Papua Barat!”.]