Rights groups decry treason trial of West Papua activists

Indonesia opened the trial of five pro-independence activists on makar (treason) charges in the West Papua capital of Jayapura Jan. 31—amid protests from international human rights groups. The charges stem from the Oct. 19 incident in which security forces violently broke up a three-day Papuan People’s Congress gathering in Jayapura, killing three and injuring some 90 more. Following the incident, eight police officers, including the Jayapura police chief, were given written warnings for committing a disciplinary infraction by not giving priority to the protection of civilians. No other action was taken against police or military personnel for possible misuse of force. But five of the activists—Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, August Makbrowen Senay, Dominikus Sorabut, and Selpius Bobii—were charged with treason under article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code and have been held in police detention since the October incident. Another Papuan, Gat Wenda, a member of the Penjaga Tanah Papua, or Pepta (Papua Land Guard), which provided security at the Congress, will be tried separately on charges of possessing a sharp weapon.

“The Indonesian government should show its commitment to peaceful expression by dropping the charges against these five Papuan activists,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s appalling that a modern democratic nation like Indonesia continues to lock up people for organizing a demonstration and expressing controversial views.”

At least 15 Papuans have been convicted of treason for peaceful political activities. They include Filep Karma, a civil servant who has been imprisoned since December 2004. About 60 other people throughout Indonesia are also imprisoned on charges related to peaceful acts of free expression, according to Human Rights Watch. The group renewed its call for the Indonesian government to release all political prisoners and allow human rights organizations and foreign journalists unimpeded access to visit Papua. (HRW, Jan. 29)

See our last post on West Papua.

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  1. West Papua – the American War on Terrorism
    In 1962 the US blackmailed the Dutch into selling the people of West Papua to Indonesian rule, a violation of law and human decency; but the US did this because the NSC said it would save America from communism. After 9/11 the US re-affirmed it’s policy against the Papuan people, this time it is being alleged that by buying Jakarta’s “friendship” the US has better standing in the Islamic world.

    Besides the fact that the US had no entitlement to trade human lives, the NSC was lying about it’s interests. Fifty one years ago President Eisenhower warned the US and the world about the “influence” which a “military industrial complex” was exerting. A few weeks earlier businessman Robert Lovett had told Kennedy to appoint fellow bonesman and Lovett’s family friend Mcgeorge Bundy as the US National Security Adviser. Under Bundy the NSC immediately made the colony of West Papua a top US policy conflict between the NSC plan to force the Dutch to sell the Papuan people to Indonesian rule, and the objections to that plan by the CIA and Dept of State. Eventually Bundy won and the US blackmailed the Netherlands with a threat of trade embargo into signing the “New York Agreement”.

    The true reason for the “New York Agreement” is because Lovett was a director of the Freeport corporation which today is still mining West Papua’s gold & copper etc. It is illegal to sell humans, but the US has done it at the United Nations when it pushed resolution 1752 (XVII) through the General Assembly.

    Just as East Timor was entitled to a vote, so too West Papua is entitled to a vote.

    I ask readers to read the 1961 manifesto which you can find at http:/wpik.org/Src/manifesto.html and I ask that you support it by raising West Papua with your governments.

    1. West Papua history
      Very interesting, but we have a few questions.

      1. Wasn’t West Papua (then Irian Jaya) already under at least de facto Indonesian rule by 1961? The Netherlands pulled out in 1949, no?

      2. The US “blackmailed” its NATO ally Holland on behalf of third world client state Indonesia? That seems a little hard to believe…

      3. The CIA was on the right side, and was overruled by the NSC? That also seems a little hard to believe…

      4. Adding to the confusion, I note that in addition to changing the name of the territory from Irian Jaya to West Papua, Indonesia in 2003 divided it into three provinces: Central Papua (Papua Tengah), Papua (or East Papua—Papua Timur), and West Papua (Papua Barat). The capital of the original Papua province, Jayapura, is now the capital of the new (reduced) Papua province, or East Papua. (See Statoids website.)

      Am I correct in assuming the independence movement considers the entire territory (i.e., all of Papua west of the border with Papua New Guinea) to be a unified entity called West Papua?