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Uncen students held a protest demanding authority to release Papuan political prisoners

Tabloid JUBI - March 4, 2020

Hengky Yeimo, Jayapura – Hundreds of students of the University of Cenderawasih held a protest in Jayapura, Papua on Monday (2/3/2020). They urge the authority to release seven political prisoners who are currently on trial at Balikpapan District Court.

They also ask President Joko Widodo to follow up a report handed by lawyer Veronika Koman about 57 Papuan political prisoners and 243 dead civilians in Nduga, Papua, following the incident of the murder of PT Istaka Karya workers on 2 December 2018.

Wearing their university jackets, they called for the release of seven Papuan political prisoners. Buchtar Tabuni, Agus Kossay, Steven Itlay, Alexander Gobay, Feri Bom Kombo, Hengky Hilapork and Irwanus Uropmabin are the political prisoners who currently undergo their trial in Balikpapan. The protesters held posters and banners "Immediately Free Seven Political Prisoners in Kalimantan" and "Seven Prisoners of Racism Victims to Immediately Send Home to the Motherland West Papua."

The chairman of the Executive Board of Uncen Law School Yops Itlay, in his oration in front of the demonstrators, said the authority must release and send the seven political prisoners home immediately. He further stated that the case of seven political prisoners should take in Papua, instead forcedly took to Kalimantan Timur for the trial.

In his speech, Itlay emphasised that the seven political prisoners are the victims of racism incident occurred in Surabaya on 16 August 2019. He considered the trial against the seven political prisoners and other Papuans involved in an anti-racism rally in Papua is not fair as it accused them as perpetrators (of riot).

"We are victims, but they pointed us as perpetrators. Today we held our protest because we are not animals. We are just like them, human beings created by God," he spoke in front of the university gate in Waena, Jayapura.

In a statement read by Yops Itlay, the protesters also asked President Joko Widodo to immediately taking action on the report handed by lawyer Veronika Koman about the current 57 Papuan political prisoners and 243 civilians who died in Nduga, Papua. "The president of the Republic Indonesia to immediately taking action the report handed by human rights lawyer Veronika Koman about 57 political prisoners and 243 civilians died in Nduga, Papua, since December 2018," read Itlay.

Furthermore, the protesters asked the Papuan Governor, Papuan House of Representatives and Papuan People's Assembly to immediately taking a concrete step to repatriate Papuan students who are victims of racism and free the seven Papuan political prisoners. "[Authority] must immediately free the seven political prisoners, as well as Surya Anta and other Papuan friends in Jakarta," said Yops Itlay.

Moreover, he said prosecutors and judges as part of the law enforcement apparatus should act impartially and respect the law. "The prosecutor's office and the court must refer to law and justice, respect people's equal rights before the law. If they do not listen to us, we students are ready to boycott PON (National Sport Event) 2020 in Papua," he said.

Meanwhile, representing Uncen, the Vice-Rector III Yonatan Waromi who accompanied his students in the rally appreciated this peaceful demonstration. "This is a part of democracy that should maintain on the campus. We would support the freedom of expression on campus because students are the social control to the society," said Waromi.

Source: https://eng.jubi.co.id/uncen-students-held-a-protest-demanding-authority-to-release-papuan-political-prisoners