UPDATE (Indonesia): Another activist arrested for holding a peaceful protest


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-071-2008
ISSUES: Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Human rights defenders,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regrets to inform you that another activist has been arrested and charged with subversion over his role in organizing a peaceful protest two months ago. His arrest took place as he and his colleagues had just concluded a press conference calling for the release of an activist whom the police had earlier arrested in connection with the protest.


As mentioned in our previous appeal (AHRC-UAC-262-2008), activist Mr. Buchtar Tabuni had been arrested on 3 December 2008. He has been charged with treason and his arrest was in connection with the peaceful protest he and his colleagues have helped organized two months ago, October 16.

A few days after Tabuni’s arrest, activist Mr. Seblom Sambom, was also arrested at around 11:30am on 17 December 2008 in Sentani – Jayapura in the Theys Eluay Memorial park. At the time of his arrest, Sambom had just concluded a press conference they had conducted which calls for the release of Tabuni. The arresting policemen, the Papuan Police Criminal Investigation Division (CID), had taken him into their custody without showing to him any arrest warrants. It was learned later though that he has been charge with subversion in connection with the October 16 protest.

At the time of his arrest, the Papuan Police CID arrived on the scene and had immediately proceeded to arrest Sambom. No explanation was given to him as to the nature of charges laid on him nor was he informed why he is being arrested. The police, too, did not provide him any answer to questions he and others have asked.

Sambom is a human rights activist and is also a member of the committee of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in Papua. He has since been an outspoken supporter of the Papuan’s struggle for self determination and independence.

On October 16, 2008, both Tabuni and Sambom helped organize a peaceful demonstration supporting the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) in London. He had organized the said protest in cooperation with Tabuni.

After his arrest, Sambom was taken to the police headquarters. They had arrived there at about 1:20 pm. He was immediately taken to the investigation room where he was subjected for questioning for more than four hours consecutively.

The investigation of Sambom was closed to the public and the police as well had refused to answer any inquiries about the arrest. They also did not disclose any information to any media organizations there. According to the information given by Sambom’s lawyers Iwan Niode and Latifah Anum Siregar, the arrest was due to his role in organizing the October 16 protest.


The International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) was launched at the Houses of Commons, London on 15 October 2008.  The event was a historical international gathering of Parliamentarians, in support of self determination for the native people of West Papua. The launch in Parliament was co-hosted by Andrew Smith MP and Lord Harries. The aim of the group is to coordinate international parliamentary action on West Papua and to generate support for the self determination of the now Indonesian province.

The demonstration held in support of the IPWP on October 16 in Papua was peaceful, and in accordance with domestic Indonesian law Law No. 9/1998 on freedom of expression, nevertheless the Indonesian security forces had used the said occasion in filing questionable charges of treason and subversion against those who organized the protest. It eventually resulted to the arrest of the activists there.

Prior to the arrest of these two activists though, on October 17, 2008, an activist Yosias Syet has also been murdered in his own home in Waibron, Jayapura Regency, Papua. For further details please read: AHRC-UAC-261-2008. Indicators suggest that the perpetrators were from the Indonesian security forces.

The alleged involvement of the Indonesian security forces into arrest, harassment, murder and torture of activists in Papua has been taking place in a systematic and in an alarming scale. The arrests are sanctioned by domestic Indonesian law, which criminalizes any “attempt to bring the territory of the state wholly or partially under foreign domination or to separate part thereof” (from article 106 of the Indonesian Penal Code)

In past cases of detention of rights activists in Papua, torture has been frequently used during interrogation and detention. It is hence plausible that Sambom could have had suffered from the same treatment during his current detention.

Please write a letter to the concerned authorities below requesting for their appropriate intervention promptly. These activists should be released unconditionally and that charges laid on them are withdrawn.

The AHRC has also written to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders calling for intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

Re: INDONESIA: Another activist arrested for holding a peaceful protest

Name of victim: Mr. Seblom Sambom, 30 years of age
Alleged perpetrators: Criminal Investigation Division of the Police in Papua
Date of incident: 17 December 2008 at 11:30am
Place of incident: Sentani, Jayapura, Papua

I am appalled to learn of the arrest of Mr. Seblom Sambom on 17 December 2008. According to the information that I have received, Sambom was taken into custody on charges of subversion. He was arrested by personnel from the Criminal Investigation Division of the Papuan police. No arrest warrant was presented at the time of the arrest, and Sambom is currently being held in detention.

Sambom is a devoted rights activist, and a member of the committee of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in Papua. In that capacity he has helped organize a demonstration in support of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London, on 16 October 2008.

The demonstration on October 16 was conducted in a peaceful manner, and was in accordance with the regulations found in domestic Indonesian law No. 9/1998 on freedom of expression. Despite this though, the said occasion had been used by the security forces of filing questionable charges of treason and subversion on activist which also resulted to Sambom arrest and detention since 17 December 2008.

First, I urge you to ensure that Sambom be immediately and unconditionally released from custody. I am deeply concerned that unless he is released and charges withdrawn, there is likelihood that he would be subjected to torture. Further, the charges against him should be dropped, since he was acting in accordance with domestic Indonesian law when organizing the demonstration on October 16.

Further I want to draw your attention to the pressing need for a reform of the Indonesian Penal Code, especially with regards to article 106. This article is clearly conflicting with fundamental freedoms of the individual, such as the freedom of expression. Additionally, the article is in contradiction with domestic Indonesian law.

Voicing one’s political opinion is a fundamental freedom, but one which is frequently denied the indigenous population of Papua. This is a very serious concern, which I trust that you take seriously.

Yours sincerely;


1. Irjen Polisi Drs. F.X. Bagus Ekodanto
Chief of the Papuan Regional Police
Kepolisian Daerah Papua
Jl. Dr. Sam Ratulangi No. 8
Tel: +62 967 33317 / 31835

2. R. Widyopramono SH,M.Hum.
Kejaksaan Tinggi Papua
Jl. Anggrek No.6 Tj. Ria
Tel: +62 967 542764 / 541130

3. Paulus Waterpauw,
Director of the Criminal Unit
Papua Regional Police
Jl. Samratulangi
No. 8 Jayapura
Tel: + 62 967 531834

4. Mr. Hendarman Supandji
Attorney General
Kejaksaan Agung RI
Jl. Sultan Hasanuddin No. 1
Jakarta Selatan
Fax: + 62 21 7250213
Tel: + 62 21 7221337, 7397602
E-mail: postmaster@kejaksaan.or.id

5. Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri
Chief of National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Jakarta Selatan
Fax: +62 21 720 7277
Tel: +62 21 721 8012
Email: polri@polri.go.id

6. Mr. Andi Matalatta
Minister of Justice and Human Rights
JI. H.R. Rosuna Said Kav. 6-7
Kuningan, Jakarta Selatan
Fax: +62 21 525 3095

7. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono
Republic of Indonesia
Presidential Palace
Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara
Jakarta Pusat 10010
Fax: + 62 21 231 41 38, 345 2685, 345 7782
Tel: + 62 21 3845627 ext 1003
E-mail: presiden@ri.go.id

8. Mr. Ifdhal Kasim
KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
Fax: +62 21 3151042/3925227
Tel: +62 21 3925230
E-mail: info@komnasham.or.id.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-071-2008
Countries : Indonesia,
Campaigns : End Violence in West Papua
Issues : Administration of justice, Arbitrary arrest & detention, Human rights defenders,