Jakarta – Two of the six Papuan activists standing trial on charges of treason wore koteka (traditional Papuan dress) to a hearing on Monday at the Central Jakarta District Court, despite the judges' ban last week.
The two activists, Dano Anes Tabuni and Ambrosius Mulait, donned the koteka, or penis sheathes made from gourds, wore traditional crowns and sang a traditional Papuan song called "Hidang Makhendang".
Dano and Ambrosius, along with Indonesian People's Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) spokesperson Surya Anta and students Charles Kossay, Isay Wenda and Arina Elopere, are standing trial for holding a protest in support of Papuan independence in front of the State Palace on Aug. 28.
Central Jakarta District Court spokesperson Makmur denied allegations that the court had discriminated against the activists, who wanted to show their pride and cultural identity.
"We do not want to show discrimination against, or exception to, the traditional culture of our Papuan friends," Makmur said.
He said he had been in talks with the Jayapura District Court about wearing koteka during the hearing.
"The official statement from the Jayapura District court was that in Papua there had never been any defendant who wore a koteka at a hearing." he said.
According to Jayapura District Court staffers, Makmur said, koteka were used only during traditional ceremonies.
"Following this hearing, the judges let the defendants wear koteka only outside of the court. They did not allow them to wear koteka during the hearing. It is the judges' prerogative," he said. (gis)