Jayapura, Jubi – The use of treason charges against Papuan activists has often been criticized as it criminalizes peaceful expression. It is often followed by denial of the rights of prisoners, discrimination against them, and even acts of violence.
Since being detained by the police for raising West Papua's cultural symbol, the Morning Star flag, Melvin Yobe has been worried about his tuberculosis. Yobe was diagnosed with the illness on August 21, 2021, and he was required to take medicine regularly for six months without interruption.
However, in the detention room of the Papua Police Headquarters, Yobe was assigned an inappropriate cell. "We slept on the floor. The room is crowded and many people like to smoke. I was afraid of my illness relapsing," Yobe told Jubi on Saturday, November 15, 2022.
Melvin Yobe and seven of his friends raised the Morning Star flag at the Cenderawasih Sports Center in Jayapura City on December 1, 2021. Melvin Yobe together with Melvin Fernando Waine (25), Devio Tekege (23), Yosep Ernesto Matuan (19), Maksimus Simon Petrus You (18), Lukas Kitok Uropmabin (21), Ambrosius Fransiskus Elopere (21), and Zode Hilapok (27) marched from the sports center to the Papua Legislative Council (DPRP) Office.
While passing in front of the Papua Police Headquarters, Melvin and his friends chanted "We are not Red and White (Indonesian Flag), we are the Morning Star" and "Free Papua".
While marching, they unfurled two banners that read "Self Determination for West Papua, Stop Militarism In West Papua" and "Indonesia Must Open Access for the UN High Commission on Human Rights Investigation Team to West Papua". The eight youths never made it to the DPRP Office because they were arrested by the police in front of the Papua Police Headquarters.
Melvin Yobe and his seven friends were put in a detention center which was stuffy and lacked air ventilation from December 2, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
"When I was detained at the Papua Police Headquarters, I told the police that I have to take medicine. I have been sick since August 2021, I am a tuberculosis patient," Yobe said.
During his detention, Yobe repeatedly asked for permission to seek medical treatment. However, the request was not granted immediately.
It was only on February 16, 2022, that Melvin Yobe was allowed to go to Dian Harapan Hospital in Jayapura City, after three weeks of continuous requests to go to the hospital as his medicine was running out.
The police escorted Yobe to Dian Harapan Hospital. However, once he finished the examination, Yobe was immediately taken back to detention. He had not even received the result of his medical examination at that time and did not know whether he had to get more medication.
"On March 31, 2022, we were transferred to the Abepura Penitentiary. The results of my medical examination, whether I should continue taking medication or not, were never conveyed," he said.
Jubi went to Dian Harapan Hospital to cross Melvin Yobe's statement. The hospital's spokesperson, Edu Dumatubun, said that Melvin Yobe indeed had a medical check-up at Dian Harapan on February 16, 2022.
Dumatubun said Yobe underwent an X-ray of the chest and was examined by an internal medicine doctor. However, Dumatubun could not disclose the result of the examination due to patient confidentiality.
"Patient's medical record is confidential. He must receive it by himself, no one else can. Unless there is a court order, it can be given as evidence," Dumatubun told Jubi.
Jubi asked about Melvin Yobe's statement that up until his release after serving his sentence on September 27, 2022, he had not received the results of his medical examination at Dian Harapan Hospital.
"If he was still in detention, there should have been a policeman who comes to ask for it. But now that he is already released, he can come here and ask for the results," said Dumatubun.
Head of Radiology at Dian Harapan Hospital Herman Rumanus Hali also confirmed that Melvin Yobe underwent an X-ray on February 16, 2022. He said he had received information that the results of the examination had been sent to the Papua Police, where Melvin Yobe was detained at the time.
"The result of the examination has been sent to the Papua Police," Herman told Jubi in the Radiology room on October 28, 2022.
[to be continued]