Nov 05, 2015

West Papua: Urging the Release of Political Prisoners

In May 2015, Indonesian President Joko Widodo released a number of political prisoners. However, the online database Papua Behind Bars reports that 47 political prisoners are still imprisoned. Further measures should be taken by Indonesia to release the remaining prisoners.


Below is an article published by Radio New Zealand International:

Despite a handful of Papuan political prisoners being freed recently by Indonesia's president, there's a lot more still languishing behind bars in West Papua.

A West Papuan activist is calling for the Indonesian government to free all Papuan political prisoners.

The Indonesian president Joko Widodo in May freed a handful of prisoners from Abepura prison.

But the prominent Papuan political prisoner, Filep Karma, refused an offer of remission, saying he was not interested in accepting any arrangement where he admits guilt for a crime he didn't commit.

Filep Karma is serving a 15 year jail term for treason after he raised the banned Papuan Morning Star flag in 2004.

Indonesia's Political, Law and Security Minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, recently said Karma was wrongly convicted of treason, or makar, which implies inciting armed revolt.

According to the online political prisoner database Papuans Behind Bars, 47 political prisoners are currently detained in West Papua.
Ruth Ogetay, who works for the interests of West Papuan political prisoners, told Johnny Blades outside Abepura Prison that there are quite a few more.

RUTH OGETAY: Government of Indonesia say it can free political prisoners. And we talk to Indonesia, say you must free all political prisoners like that, like Filep Karma. And now, in May, President Jokowi freed political prisoners but just five people freed. And then we in Papua, until now, we have had one thousand political prisoners; but now, political prisoners, maybe 75, I have data in here. In prisons all over Papua, all prisons have (political) prisoners: in Wamena, Jayapura, Sorong, Manokwari, Nabire, Paniai have political prisoners. Now in here, in Abepura Prison, we have fifteen political prisoners in here. In Biak, there are seven political prisoner but we don't know, maybe have another people in Polres (Police custody). We don't know because sometimes, government of Indonesia, military take activists...


JOHNNY BLADES: It's not reported always?

RO: Yeah.

JB: And the political prisoners who are put in prison are charged with what? Makar (treason)?

RO: Yeah, makar. But now... Before, government of Indonesia give makar, but now government of Indonesia give criminal... they say criminal for activists. Because Amnesty International know about, Amnesty International for instance in America, Australia or New Zealand know about (Indonesia) having political prisoners in here, and then government of Indonesia give all activists criminal...

JB: Charges?

RO: Yes

JB: So things like maybe a violence or firearms charge, things like that?

RO: Yeah.


Photo courtesy of Raúl G. Huergo @Flickr