Friday, November 20, 2015

1) Papuan rebel leader walks free after 11 years

2) Dateline Pacific evening edition for 20 November 2015
3) Another soldier fired,  imprisoned after fatal  shooting 
4) Hopes more Papua prisoners to be freed
1) Papuan rebel leader walks  free after 11 years
Nethy Dharma Somba, Ina Parlina and Fedina S. Sundaryani, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura/Jakarta | Archipelago | Fri, November 20 2015, 3:10 PM -
After 11 years behind bars, Papuan pro-independence leader Filep Jacob Semuel Karma, 56, was released on Thursday from prison by the government, a move applauded by democracy activists as a promising step toward resolving problems in one of the country’s least-developed regions. 

In 2004, the Jayapura District Court sentenced Filep to 15 years in prison for treason after he led a ceremony to hoist the Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag at an independence rally in Trikora Square in Abepura, Jayapura, on Dec. 1 that year. 

A cultural symbol of the region, the flag is also associated with the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which campaigns for Papua to be independent of Indonesia. 

Following the rally, Filep and Yusak Pakage, another pro-independence activist, were immediately arrested and brought to trial; Yusak, convicted of the same crime, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Filep was eligible to walk free after receiving combined remissions of 50 months.

His release on Thursday was officiated through the signing of a document of release by Abepura Penitentiary chief warden Bagus Kurniawan and Filep’s son-in-law Abraham Bonay and lawyer Olga Hamadi.

Filep, however, refused to leave his finger prints on his photograph and in the prison’s registration book.

Olga said that Filep had the right not to leave his fingerprints, adding that she had received the official notice of Filep’s release on Wednesday. 
Filep, meanwhile, refused to comment further, saying that he would talk to the press next week.

“I haven’t got any plan ahead after my release, which has come suddenly. I was forced to leave, just like I was forced to be in [prison],” Filep said, while waiting for his release documents to be finalized.

Outside Abepura Penitentiary, dozens of supporters of the Free Papua National Committee (KNPB) repeatedly cried pro-independence slogans as Filep emerged.

The situation remained peaceable, though hundreds of police personnel were deployed to guard the city’s Ekspo Waena compound, where Filep joined a thanksgiving prayer for the seventh anniversary of the KNPB shortly after his release.
Meanwhile in Jakarta, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said that no special security measure had been put in place in Papua following Filep’s release. “The security we have now is security for all,” he said.

The central government has long been accused of being solely interested in Papua’s rich natural resources, with little regard for its people.

Separately, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) chairman Haris Azhar called Filep’s early release a “democratic inevitability”, adding that Filep should never have been imprisoned for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He cautioned, however, that Filep’s release was just one small step toward resolving Papua’s many problems.

“While the release is commendable, Papua still has many problems that need to be resolved with concrete action from the government,” he said.

Pastor Neles Tebay, the coordinator of the Papua Peaceful Network, meanwhile, saw Filep’s release as a signal from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration that the long-standing conflicts in Papua would be resolved peacefully.

International Civilians of Strengthening (ICS) Papua director Yusak Reba, meanwhile, said that Filep’s release would not silence Free Papua supporters.

“They will continue their struggle for freedom, in defiance of Indonesian law,” he said.
2) Dateline Pacific evening edition for 20 November 2015
Updated at 4:09 pm on 20 November 2015

A Papuan separatist leader walks free from jail after more than a decade in prison; Also in Papua, Indonesia told to embrace transparency; NZ's Pacific community rallies for Jonah; Vanuatu releases new cyclone map for season; Next generation of Fiji journalists told to be catylysts for change; and the Pacific is urged to invest more in agriculture.
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3) Another soldier fired,  imprisoned after fatal  shooting 
Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Archipelago | Fri, November 20 2015, 3:15 PM -
The panel of judges at the Jayapura Military Court in Papua dismissed First Sgt. Ashar from the Indonesian Army on Thursday, sentencing him to nine years’ imprisonment for his involvement in a shooting incident that killed two civilians in Mimika regency.

Ashar, who served with the Military District Command (Kodim) 1710/Timika, is the third soldier to have been dishonorably discharged and sent to jail in the case.

Speaking in a verdict hearing in Timika, the capital of Mimika regency, presiding judge, Lt. Col. Ventje Bulo said that Ashar had been proven to have violated Article 338 Point 1 and 3 of the Criminal Code on murder and Article 351 Point 1 and 2 on aggravated assault.

“The defendant’s actions were against the humanitarian instinct as it cost the lives of others’,” he said.

The verdict, however, was lighter than that demanded by military prosecutors, who recommended an 11-year prison term and a dishonorable discharge.

Ashar, along with three fellow soldiers, First Pvt. Imanuel Imbiri, First Pvt. Makher Rehatta and Chief Pvt. Gregorius R. Geta, were charged with firing gunshots at local residents who were holding a thanksgiving ceremony in front of the Koprapoka Catholic Church in Mimika on Aug. 28.

The incident began when locals became infuriated with Makher and Imanuel for breaking through a road barrier at high speed while riding on motorcycles.

Imanuel, who was on the back of the motorcycle, then descended from the vehicle and brandished a knife at the locals, who later chased both soldiers away. The soldiers then ran to a guard post, grabbed guns and then returned to the church.

Ashar and Gregorius, followed along on another motorcycle, bringing rifles with them. Ashar fired his rifle and so did Makher, killing two civilians from the Kamoro tribe, Herman Mairimau and Yulianus Okoare, and injured four others.

The four soldiers were reportedly under the influence of alcohol when they committed the offence.

Soon after the shooting incident, local residents carried the bodies of the victims to the Kodam base and placed them in the middle of the street in a show of their anger. The bodies were moved to the Koprapoka church only after negotiations were held with Papua Police chief Brig. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw, mediated by Pastor Amandus Rahaded.

During the hearing, Ventje said Ashar’s action had proven that he had disobeyed an instruction from the Cenderawasih Military Regional Command (Kodam) chief to protect the local community.

Last week, the same court also dishonorably discharged Makher and Gregorius and sentenced each of them to 12 and three years in prison, respectively. The panel of judges argued in their verdict that the actions of the two soldiers could trigger a security instability in Mimika that could expand to other regions in Papua.

Imanuel, meanwhile, is still awaiting for his verdict hearing.

Kamoro community figure Marianus Maknaipeku earlier said that local residents had appreciated efforts from military leaders to run the trial in a transparent manner. He also applauded the Jayapura Military Court for conducting the military trial in Mimika, instead of the Papuan provincial capital of Jayapura, so that locals could directly observe.

“We ask for one thing, a transparent process, until the dismissal, so that we can really be sure that the perpetrators will no longer remain members of the military,” he said.

4) Hopes more Papua prisoners to be freed
Updated at 2:15 pm on 20 November 2015

Amnesty International New Zealand says there's no doubt that mounting international pressure played a part in the release of West Papua's most high profile political prisoner after a decade in jail.
Filep Karma was yesterday freed from a prison on the outskirts of Jayapura, the capital of Indonesia's Papua province, to an emotional welcome by hundreds of cheering supporters.
Amnesty New Zealand's activism manager Margaret Taylor says Karma, who was jailed for raising a pro-independence flag at a political ceremony in 2004, should never have been detained in the first place.
She says they are hopeful that increasing international attention on Papua might lead to the release of more prisoners of conscience.
"Filep was quite high profile but there are any other number of prisoners of conscience in Papua and of course president Widodo has made a number of visits to that province and has made a commitment to address human rights abuses there and not least releasing some prisoners of conscience."
Margaret Taylor says Filep Karma could have been released at anytime in the last 10 years if he agreed he had any degree of guilt but declined and is being released on his own terms.

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