Mar 14, 2014

West Papua: At Least 76 Political Prisoners Reports Online Platform

A new report by the online platform ‘Papuans Behind Bars’ reveals that there are at least 76 political prisoners in West Papuan jails. A least 22 of the prisoners were arrested during and after large-scale military and police operations in Yapen island, which resulted in human rights abuses against civilians, including arbitrary arrest, enforced mass evacuations, death threats, indiscriminate shooting and torture by security forces. 

Below is an article published by the Pacific Scoop

There are at least 76 political prisoners in West Papuan jails, a new report from Papuans Behind Bars has revealed. At least 22 of the prisoners were arrested last month during military incursions into Sasawa village in Yapen island, and in the days following the raids. “Residents of the surrounding villages of Kamanap and Kanawa were reportedly beaten, tortured and given death threats by security forces,” says the Papuans Behind Bars report. The West Papuan Morning Star flags were confiscated by the Indonesian military.

Another 11 West Papuan men, who were arrested during a police invasion on 19 May 2013 in Oksibil in the Pegunungan Bintang regency, are still in prison, having received 19 month sentences. One of the political prisoners, Stefanus Banal, was “shot in the leg and sustained severe injuries during the police raid”, says the report.

Despite having undergone surgery for his gunshot wounds twice since this time, Banal has been sentenced to one year and seven months in prison. Last month, Banal’s family was even forced to pay for him to be moved from one prison to another.A further three men were arrested after a protest against illegal logging, which protesters said was “theft of local resources by security forces”. The men were not involved in the protest, according to the report, but were arrested after police stormed a nearby community “shooting indiscriminately into houses and causing extensive damage”, the report says.

One man, Yulianus Borotian, lost consciousness after police shot him in the neck and spent a month in hospital before being taken back to prison, where he remains with the other three men.

Meanwhile, Oktovianus Warnares, who led a peaceful West Papuan flag-raising ceremony on 1 May 2013, was recently sentenced to three years’ imprisonment while three other West Papuans were sentenced to between 20 and 30 months in prison for participating in the same ceremony.

West Papua Media Alerts has reported that a further three men, Tinius Kiwo, Wurin Tabuni, and Kiwenus Tabuni were “allegedly severely tortured after being arrested, with their skin being sliced open by razor blades. Their whereabouts is not currently known”. The arrests of the men were this week confirmed by Reverend Socratez Sofyan, chairman of the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Papua.

Amnesty International’s most recent report on Indonesia states that Indonesian security forces, including police and military personnel, stand accused of torture, excessive use of force and firearms and possible unlawful killings were reported. “In most cases, the perpetrators were not brought to justice and victims did not receive reparations” says the report.

The report adds that there is no freedom of expression in West Papua, with the Indonesian authorities using “repressive legislation to criminalise peaceful political activists”.

Photo © Austronesian Expeditions