Jakarta – Human Rights activist Veronica Koman has confirmed reports that there was communication between herself and the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) chairperson for the Merauke region known by the initials EKM.
EKM was arrested by police on June 9 on charges of allegedly spreading fake news (hoaxes) of a provocative nature and smacking of ethnic, religious, racial and inter-group (SARA) hostility on his personal Facebook account in the name of Manuel Metemko.
Police say that it was discovered from a cell phone confiscated from EKM that he had often communicated with Koman.
"Correct, I communicated with Emanuel. But this must be understood in the context that I do indeed communicate with dozens of different Papuans every day. There was nothing special about my communication [with him]", Koman told CNN Indonesia by SMS on Friday June 11.
Nevertheless, said Koman, from the information she received from EKM he is no longer a part of the Merauke KNPB. "According to a clarification from the Merauke KNPB the other day, Emanuel has not been a member of the KNPB since 2019", she said.
With regard to his arrest, Koman said that police have also accused EKM of sharing fake news with her. The police however have not specifically cited what false information EKM conveyed to Koman.
"This shows that the police as a whole won't allow the sharing of any information about human rights violations in Papua. It shows the police's panic in [trying] to cover up human rights violations in Papua which are committed recklessly", said Koman who is also known as a human rights advocate.
Not only that, said Koman, EKM's arrest adds to the long list of Papuan activists who have been arrested for expressing their views in the virtual world.
"Papuans expressing themselves in the streets are disbursed and arrested, now those expressing themselves on the internet are arrested. There is truly no democratic space for Papuans in this country", said Koman.
EKM was arrested at his home in Merauke on Wednesday at around 10.35 pm. He was arrested for allegedly spreading fake news or hoaxes on his personal Facebook account in the name of Manuel Metemko.
During the investigation, police also seized a cell phone belonging to EKM on which they found chats between EKM and Koman.
"The person concerned actively communicated with Veronica Koman. That was one of the chats found on the mobile phone which was seized", said Nemangkawi Task Force public relations chief Senior Commissioner Iqbal Alqudusy on Friday June 11. (dis/kid)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Veronica Koman Akui 'Chat' Ketua KNPB: Tak Ada yang Spesial".]