Solidarity action in Jayapura demands release of 7 Papua political prisoners

Arah Juang – June 13, 2020
SMRP rally at Papua chief public prosecutor's office in Jayapura – June 12, 2020 (AJ)

Jayapura – On Friday June 12 the group Papuan People and Student Solidarity (SMRP) went to the Papua chief public prosecutor's office in Jayapura carrying a coffin.

The coffin was carried in a procession towards the prosecutor's office along with pamphlets which were adjourned to resemble bouquets with the message "Sharing the Sorrow for Indonesian Law" along with a cross with the writing "RIP Law of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia".

The group also declared that if the seven Papuan political prisoners currently being tried for treason in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, are not freed then Papua then there will be a third wave of demonstrations and the responsibility for this will lie entirely with the Papuan chief public prosecutor.

At 9.30 am the protesters began gathering on the grounds of the Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ) campus. At 10.10 am they moved off using public transport towards the Papua chief public prosecutors' office.

The protesters arrived at 11.20 am and after gathering together started the action in which the coffin of Indonesian law was delivered to the Papuan chief prosecutor.

At 11.39 am a statement was read out by action coordinator Iche Murib which was then accepted by a Papuan chief public prosecutor employee accompanied by the head of the North Jayapura sectoral police chief (Kapolsek). At 11.40 am the protesters disbanded peacefully and returned to their respective homes.

The following is a statement by the SMRP

The racist slur "Monkeys and expel the Papuans" against the Papuan students in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on August 16, 2019, was the start of the problems and gave rise to the Papuan people's rage in several cities in Papua and West Papua provinces.

In Jayapura city anti-racist protests, which were driven by students, took place twice, namely the anti-racism action Chapter I on August 19 and the anti-racism action Chapter II on August 29. Following this, there were also anti-racist actions in Sorong, Wamena, Manokwari, Nabire, Dogiyai, Deiyai, Paniai, Yahukimo, Timika several other areas as well outside of Papua.

The Papuan people's actions ended with the arrest and detention of USTJ student president Alexander Gobai, Cendrawasih University student president Ferry Kombo, USTJ student activists Irwanus Uropmabin and Hengki Hilapok along with United Liberation Movement For West Papua (ULMWP) leader Buchtar Tabuni and West Papua National Committee (KNPB) leaders Agus Kosay and Steven Itlay.

There has been no resolution to any of these arrests and according to reports which are circulating publically they are accused of being the masterminds of anarchic mass actions during the demonstrations against racism in Jayapura.

It is this which has greatly surprised, confused and raised questions among the Papuan people about the legal process which has been pursued against these seven Papuan political prisoners who are currently being tried by the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan.

The arrests, the transfers to Balikpapan, the trial hearings and the public prosecutor’s charges are seen as being unjust and racially discriminating towards Papuan people. This has resulted heavier sentences being demanded for the seven political prisoners: 17 years jail for Buchtar Tabuni, 15 years jail for Agus Kosay and Steven Itlay, 10 years jail for Alexander Gobay and Ferry Kombo and five years jail for Hengki Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmabin.

All of these charges are totally unjust for the Papuan people, if compared with the perpetrator of the racist slurs in Surabaya, Andria Adiansyah, who was sentenced to just 10 months in prison. While Tri Susanti, who spread the provocative hoaxes, was only sentenced to seven months in jail.

Then, Syamsul Arifin, a state civil servant and a TNI (Indonesian military) member who shouted "monkeys" at the Papuan students was only sentenced to three and one month respectively.

It is very ironic how the law in this country treats Papuan people because there are still many Papuan political prisoners who are being detained all over the country who were arrested following the anti-racist demonstrations in August and September, including ULMWP Political Bureau Head Tuan Bazoka Logo who has been detained since August 15, 2019 and has contracted the corona virus in prison.

All of these things have become a public spectacle locally, nationally and internationally, showing that Indonesia always treats Papuan people unjustly.

Because of this, we from the SMRP who stand in solidarity took this opportunity today in the name of all creatures that live in the land of Papua to go to the Papua chief public prosecutor's office to deliver the corpse of the law of the Republic of Indonesia and hereby declare:

  • We join in expressing great sorrow for the death of legal normality, the state ideology of Pancasila, 1945 Constitution and justice for the Papuan people.
  • The immediate and unconditional release of the seven Papuan political prisoners in Balikpapan, including Mr. Bazooka Logo in Jayapura and all Papuan political prisoners in Indonesia.
  • That the Papuan people today are uneasy at seeing the forms of legal injustice which are currently taking place against the Papuan people in Indonesia so no one should be blamed if the Papuan people themselves again mobilise people to hold anti-racism actions Chapter III in the near future.

Thus we convey our statement to all parties who are responsible for justice and truth in this Land of Papua and with our blessings we express our thanks to the Lord of the Blessed Universe.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Solidaritas Mahasiswa dan Rakyat Papua Menuntut Pembebasan 7 Tapol Papua".]