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Indonesian detention of Papuan Victor Yeimo draws int'l concern

Radio New Zealand - August 12, 2021

Human rights advocates continue to voice concern for the welfare of West Papuan political prisoner Victor Yeimo.

Indonesian police arrested the West Papua National Committee's foreign spokesman in May over his alleged role in anti-racism protests that turned into riots in 2019.

Yeimo, who faces 11 charges, including treason, arson, and incitement, has denied he was involved in the protest in question.

After three months in police custody in the province's capital, Jayapura, he was only yesterday allowed to be checked by medical officers following repeated advocacy by concerned supporters.

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Mary Lawlor said she had heard "disturbing reports" that Yeimo was suffering from deteriorating health in prison.

I am hearing disturbing reports that Human Rights Defender from #WestPapua, Victor Yeimo, is suffering from deteriorating health in prison. I'm concerned because his pre-existing health conditions put him at grave risk of #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/q6Exq4LibE – Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs (@MaryLawlorhrds) August 10, 2021

Lawlor said she was concerned because Yeimo's pre-existing health conditions put him at grave risk from Covid-19.

The 39-year-old was the latest Papuan detained for treason allegations following widespread protests in August and September 2019, including the so-called "Balikpapan Seven" who [received jail terms of between 10 and 11 months in a trial carried out in East Kalimantan province].

The protests began in response to racist harassment of Papuan students in Java, and spread across several cities and towns in Papua, including a smaller number of protests which [https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/411118/death-toll-from-papua-2019-protest-month-put-at-59] lapsed into deadly rioting] in Jayapura, Manokwari and Wamena.

Yeimo and the KNPB (the Komite Nasional Papua Barat – a group established by NGOs to campaign for Papuan self-determination) had called for negotiations between the West Papuan independence movement and Indonesia's government, saying Papuans would not stop demanding a legitimate self-determination process.

An international organisation advocating for the rights of political prisoners in Indonesia, Tapol, was among rights groups that have appealed to Indonesian authorities for Yeimo's urgent release.

Tapol campaigner Pelagio Doutel said they held concerns Yeimo had been targeted for state reprisal.

He said the prisoner was fed nutritionally poor meals that could lead to stomach ulcers, and that this treatment could potentially be classified as torture.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/449061/indonesian-detention-of-papuan-victor-yeimo-draws-int-l-concer