Maria Baru, Kota Sorong – Papuan students studying in Bali say that the Indonesian state must release West Papua National Committee (KNPB) international spokesperson Victor Yeimo from all charges because it is inappropriate to prosecute victims of racism.
The call was made during a silent action by the Papuan People's Petition (PRP) in Bali as detailed in a press release on Thursday August 26.
Bali PRP spokesperson Jefry Kossay said that the silent action was held to demand the release of Yeimo who has been detained since his arrest on May 9, saying that it is as if the state wants to revive the issue of racism in Papuan and Indonesian society.
"We are urging the Indonesian state to release Victor Yeimo unconditionally. Victor Yeimo is not the perpetrator but a victim of structural and massive racism by ormas [social or mass organisations] and state officials against indigenous Papuans", the group said in a press release received by Suara Papua.
The criminalisation of Yeimo on the pretext of the anti-racist protests and riots in August 2019 is not based on facts because the racism against Papuan people took place in Surabaya, East Java.
"Papuans are the victims of racism. All elements of Papuan society from Sorong to Samarai must support Victor Yeimo's release from the charges. [We] are also calling for his trial to be halted because he has been detained over the issue of racism and then indicted under the makar [treason, rebellion, subversion] articles and others", the group explained.
Kossay said that Yeimo has struggled for the dignity of the Papuan people to be free from colonialism and oppression so there are no grounds for his detention and prosecution.
"[We] call for unity from all components of the Papuan people who are in the land of Papua and Indonesian solidarity activists to demand Victor Yeimo's release. We assert that Victor Yeimo and Papuan people are the victims of racism", said Kossay.
During the silent action, field coordinator Nolen Sanchez strongly condemned the security forces for always acting repressively against the Papuan people whenever they hold mass actions.
In speeches, Sanchez and his comrades slammed the curbing of democratic space and intimidation as well as the criminalisation of Papuan activists, human rights defenders and the Papuan people.
The PRP also called on the state to halt military operations in Nduga, Puncak Jaya, Puncak, Intan Jaya and throughout Papua. "The government must halt military operations and pay special attention to internally displaced people", they said.
Sanchez also said, "The PON [National Games] in Papua [should] be postponed because the local situation at the moment is far from being safe and peaceful. It's pointless organising a big event while the ordinary people are suffering. Who is the PON for? It will bring no benefits to the Papuan people".
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Mahasiswa Papua di Bali Minta Negara Bebaskan Victor Yeimo".]