Jayapura, Jubi – On Monday, June 5, 2023, members of the Papuan People's Front Against Racism (RPMR) organized a protest in the courtyard of Mimika Dormitory in Perumnas I Waena, Jayapura City. Various organizations, student groups, and Papuan people in Jayapura City participated in the protest.
They demand the immediate and unconditional release of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson charged with treason Viktor Yeimo. Yeimo was tried by the Jayapura District Court upon his alleged involvement in the anti-racism protest in 2019 against racial slurs toward Papuan students in Surabaya.
Wene Kilungga, the representative of RPMR, stated that Viktor Yeimo had been a victim of racism and had been unjustly criminalized by the state in order to suppress and limit his political expression, which is protected by the law.
According to Kilungga, the state's criminalization of pro-democracy activists restricts their fundamental rights, including the right to criticize, which is an integral part of democratic rights. He emphasized that Viktor Yeimo was only criticizing systemic physical and verbal racism against Papuans that has been ongoing for 60 years.
"In law enforcement, there is a consistent bias against indigenous Papuans, with persistent discrimination. Justice has never been served through the court system," he stated in a press release received by Jubi editorial.
Kilungga argued that Viktor Yeimo's legal proceedings were unnecessarily prolonged, consisting of 36 trials, and resulted in a highly discriminatory verdict. He believed that, based on the trial facts, Viktor Yeimo should have been acquitted, but instead, the panel of judges sentenced him to eight months in prison.
"If we consider the trial facts, Viktor Yeimo should be acquitted in the name of law and justice. However, on May 5, 2023, the judge sentenced him to eight months in prison, minus the time already spent in detention. Therefore, Viktor Yeimo should have been released on May 27, 2023," he explained.
However, on May 12, 2023, the public prosecutor filed an appeal against the judge's decision. Consequently, the court issued a letter on May 14, 2023, extending Viktor Yeimo's detention for an additional 30 days.
"Based on the discriminatory legal proceedings that Viktor Yeimo has faced, it is evident that racism is deeply embedded within the system itself," Kilungga said.
Therefore, the Papuan People's Front Against Racism is calling on the state to cease the criminalization and discriminatory treatment of Viktor Yeimo throughout the legal process conducted by the Jayapura District Court.
"We also demand that the state, through the Jayapura District Court, refrain from further extending Viktor Yeimo's detention period and immediately release him unconditionally, in accordance with the law and the facts presented during the trial," he concluded. (*)