INDONESIA: ‘Saying that there are no political prisoners in Papua is a Lie’ 

Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following statement written by a group of human rights activists published in Bintang Papua.

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong


7 March 2012

Following a statement that has just been made by Amir Syamsuddin, the Minister for Law and Human Rights claiming that there are no political prisoners (tapol/napol) in Papua, various human rights groups as well as Mama Yosepha, the Director of  the Human Rights and Anti-Violence Foundation, and Markus Haluk, a well known Papuan human rights activist, have responded.

Mama Yosepha and Markus Haluk said: ‘This statement by the Minister for Law and Human Rights shows the extent of the lies being made in public, which came after the dialogue organised by Amnesty International  last November. The Minister said that there were no political prisoners in Papua, only criminal prisoners. This is in line with the racist policies that are used against the Papuan people,’ said Markus Haluk.

Mama Yosepha and Markus Haluk said: ‘We are well aware of the denials and lies continually being spread by the Indonesian government through the Minister for Law and Human Rights. This is happening systematically in relation to the true facts that are known to the Papuan people. Since late 2011, five political prisoners have been on trial, Forkorus and his four colleagues, who are facing the charge of makar – treason – in connection with the declaration made by the Federal Republic of West Papua in October 2011 on Zakheus Square, Jayapura. In addition, from 2008 – 2010, sixteen political prisoners have been in custody in Manokwari while in Fak-Fak there are as many as sixteen prisoners, as well as fifteen in Nabire, four in Mamberamo Raya, one in Biak who is being held in  Abepura prison, and of all these, four are convicted prisoners, plus another six in Timika , which means that from 2008 to the present there have been 67 political prisoners.’

Markus went on to say that there are around ten political prisoners being held in connection with the assault on the ammunition dump in Wamena in 2003 who are now in  custody in Nabire and Biak prisons,while Filep Karma has been in custody since 2004, having been sentenced to fifteen years  and is being held in Abepura Prison, which brings the total since 2008 to seventy-two tapols and napols (tapol refers to detainees, while napol refers to convicted prisoners).

The fact that there are political prisoners in  Papua  was officially acknowledged by the head of  the Papua office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Drs Daniel Biantong in 2010, when he produced a list of 25 persons registered as tapol and napol throughout Papua.

‘The demands for sentencing have varied from eleven months to life imprisonment. This can be broken down as follows: one person for eleven months, two persons for three years, three persons for five years, one person for six years, one person for ten years and one person for fourteen years, as well as three persons who  were sentenced to fifteen years, five who were sentenced to seventeen years, four to twenty years, while two were given life sentences. In all these cases, the prisoners were charged with makar under Article 106 of the Criminal Code,’ he said.

If we go farther back, said Markus,  following the dialogue held on 26 February 1999 during the presidency of B.J.Habibie , all political prisoners who were then being held in Papua were released. However, one year later, in 2000, many Papuan leaders  and ordinary Papuans were arrested and put on trial for makar, and this has been going on up to the present day.

Mama Yosepha,  said: ‘We human rights activists in Papua  have been firmly insisting that there are tapols and napols in Papua, and they are not criminal prisoners. We urge on the Indonesian government to stop spreading lies  and making racist remarks, like talking about murders, arrests and detentions with regard to Papuan leaders and ordinary Papuans here in the Land of Papua. Instead they should release Papuan leaders such as Forkorus Yaboisembut and Edison Waromi as well as the three others with them and lift the makar charges that are being made against all five of them.’

She went on to say: ‘Bearing in mind the statement made by the Minister for Law and Human Rights last  year and then on 5 March 2012, and bearing in mind too that Indonesia is now a Democratic State,what should happen is that the Indonesian government should release all the political prisoners who are now being held throughout Papua  as well as outside Papua.’

She went on to add: ‘We urge the Indonesian government to allow complete access for diplomats, journalists, human rights workers, members of Senates and congresses [around the world] to visit Papua.’

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Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-014-2012
Countries : Indonesia,