Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is calling for the release of seven Papuan defendants who are being tried on treason charges at the Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan.
"[We] urge the Balikpapan District Court to find all of the Papua tapols [political prisoners] not guilty", said researcher Ardi Manto from Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial), one of the non-government organisations (NGOs) in the coalition during a virtual press conference on Tuesday June 16.
The Coalition believes that the prosecution of the seven Papuan political prisoners has been far from fair. The charges against them also show there is discrimination on the part of law enforcement officials.
This discrimination, they said, even reflects a racial bias, as if it is appropriate for the seven political prisoners to receive heavier sentence than others tried in similar cases.
"The seven political prisoners are also human rights defenders who were voicing their protests against acts of racism which occurred earlier against Papuan ethnic nationals", he said.
In addition to this, Manto said that the Coalition is calling on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to give amnesty to all other Papuan political prisoners, namely those who have been indicted under the articles on makar (treason, subversion, rebellion).
According to the group, what these political prisoners did was to simply exercise their freedom of expression which is protected by the 1945 Constitution.
The Coalition is also urging law enforcement officials in Indonesia, particularly the police, the Attorney General's Office and the courts not to be racist in responding to the situation in Papua. The Coalition believes that this will only worsen the situation.
The seven Papuan youths have been indicted over their alleged involvement in protest actions Ausust and September last year which ended in violence in Jayapura.
After arresting and charging them, the police transferred them from the Papua regional police to the East Kalimantan regional police in order to avoid potential conflict. The seven defendants are currently being tried by the Balikpapan District Court.
The defendants, namely Former Cenderawasih University Student Executive Council (BEM) Chairperson Ferry Kombo and Jayapura University of Science and Technology BEM Chairperson Alex Gobay are facing 10-year prison sentences while Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Urobmabin are facing 5 year in prison.
Meanwhile United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) leader Buchtar Tabuni is facing a 17-year sentence while West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairperson Steven Itlay and KNPB General Chairperson Agus Kossay are facing 15 years in prison.
According to the Balikpapan District Court Case Information Tracking System (SIPP), the preliminary hearing against the seven defendants was held on Tuesday February 11.
In the indictment they are charged with committing acts of makar as regulated under Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the KUHP. (yoa/bmw)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil Desak 7 Tapol Papua Divonis Bebas".]