Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) head of organisational development, Febriyonesta, has criticised police for declaring eight people as suspects for flying the Morning Star flag during a protest action in front of the State Palace on August 28.
Febriyonesta – who is known by his friends as Mayong – believes that the government is taking an excessive position in confronting Papuan people expressing an opinion.
"Actions expressing or [demanding] self-determination by the Papuan people are a form of freedom of expression which should not be criminalised", said Febriyonesta in Jakarta on Sunday September 1.
He also questioned the use of the makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) articles to indict the eight Papuan students, including Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) spokesperson Surya Anta.
"What's so dangerous about flying the Morning Star [flag], could this lead to overthrowing the legitimate government", he asked.
According to Febriyonesta there was no threat against government in flying the Morning Star flag and this is not in accordance with the definition of makar as regulated under law.
He gave the example of the position taken by the government during the administration of former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, which was proportionate in responding to the raising of the Morning Star flag.
Furthermore, Febriyonesta believes that applying the makar articles obscures the government's principle focus of dealing with the problems in Papua and West Papua.
"This distracts from the focus of the cases, the focus is the absense of the state in protecting the Papuan people who are a racial minority in Indonesia", he said.
According to Febriyonesta, in dealing with cases related to Papua the government has tended to prioritise a security approach rather than a humanitarian one. This has only worsened the situation.
Earlier, Metro Jaya public relations division head Senior Commissioner Argo Yuwono said that after conducting an investigation police arrested eight people in several different location including a protest action and student dormitory.
"Yes, including (Surya Anta)", said Yuwono at the Metro Jaya police headquarters in Central Java on Sunday.
"Metro Jaya regional police investigators did of course conduct an investigation meaning gathering evidence such as CCTV [footage], photographs, then after we conducted an evaluation, we secured eight people", he said. (mjs/ugo)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "YLBHI soal Surya Anta: Apa Bahaya Pengibaran Bintang Kejora".]