Monday, January 8, 2018

1) West Papuan activist on trial for treason over independence petition


2) A Former Political Prisoner’s Fragile Freedom in Indonesia
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1) West Papuan activist on trial for treason over independence petition
Campaigners have called for the release of Yanto Awerkion, 27, who faces six years to life in jail if found guilty in Indonesian court
Helen Davidson Tue 9 Jan ‘18 17.14 AEDT


West Papuan independence campaigners have called for the release of an activist who has been put on trial for treason after he helped gather signatures for a petition.
Yanto Awerkion was arrested for his involvement in a pro-independence petition which gathered more than 1.8m West Papuan signatures.
The petition, calling for a free vote on independence, had been outlawed by Indonesian authorities but was smuggled out of the region and delivered to the United Nations in September.
The 27-year-old man is deputy chair of the Timika branch of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB). According to his supporters he was arrested after getting on stage to speak about the petition at an event in May.

West Papuan independence campaigners have called for the release of an activist who has been put on trial for treason after he helped gather signatures for a petition.
Yanto Awerkion was arrested for his involvement in a pro-independence petition which gathered more than 1.8m West Papuan signatures.
The petition, calling for a free vote on independence, had been outlawed by Indonesian authorities but was smuggled out of the region and delivered to the United Nations in September.
The 27-year-old man is deputy chair of the Timika branch of the pro-independence West Papua National Committee (KNPB). According to his supporters he was arrested after getting on stage to speak about the petition at an event in May.

Bimantara did not detail Awerkion’s alleged actions, but said “separatist groups in Papua and West Papua have been found to commit a number of offences”, and noted the death of a policeman last year. 
Awerkion is not believed to be facing charges involving violence. Bimantara said that was a matter for the prosecutor.
The petition asked the UN to “put West Papua back on the decolonisation committee agenda and ensure their right to self‐determination … is respected by holding an internationally supervised vote”.
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West Papua was annexed by Indonesia in 1963, an act formalised six years later with a widely discredited UN-supervised vote known as the Act of Free Choice. The only voters were 1,063 people selected by the military and compelled to vote in favour of Indonesian annexation.
“In the West Papuan people’s petition we hand over the bones of the people of West Papua to the United Nations and the world,” exiled independence leader Benny Wenda told the UN when the petition was handed over. 
“After decades of suffering, decades of genocide, decades of occupation, we open up the voice of the West Papuan people which lives inside this petition. My people want to be free.”
Indonesian foreign ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said at the time the petition was “purely a publicity stunt with no credibility”.
The petition also called for the appointment of a special representative to investigate human rights abuses but was ultimately rebuffed by the UN’s decolonisation committee because West Papua was outside its mandate.
There are frequent reports of mass arrests and violence by Indonesian police and military forces against separatists and their supporters, but information is difficult to verify because of restrictions on foreign media entering the territory.
The leader of the Greens, Richard Di Natale, called for the Australian government to make entreaties on behalf of Awerkion and other prisoners, and to support West Papua’s calls for a UN-backed referendum.
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2) A Former Political Prisoner’s Fragile Freedom in Indonesia
Filep Karma Arbitrarily Detained at Jakarta Airport
Indonesia Researcher
 
 Last week an activist famous in Indonesia for peacefully advocating for the independence of the country’s Papua and West Papua provinces, Filep Karma, briefly became a political prisoner. Again.
This time around, Karma, who always wears the Morning Star symbol of West Papua independence on his shirt, was detained by a uniformed Indonesian Armed Forces officer after disembarking at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
What ensued was a 90-minute arbitrary detention in which seven Air Force officers, including one bearing a semi-automatic rifle, interrogated Karma about the symbol on his shirt. The officers insisted Karma remove that symbol from his clothing and asked if he was a member of the armed separatist Free Papua Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka or OPM). According to Karma, throughout the interrogation, the officers verbally abused him, calling him “scoundrel,” “monkey,” and “moron.” They subsequently transferred Karma to the custody of airport police who released him without charge.
Karma, who spent 11 years behind bars after being convicted in 2005 of makar – rebellion or treason – for publicly raising the Morning Star flag, is no stranger to abuse at the hands of Indonesian authorities. In November 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared him a political prisoner and demanded that the Indonesian government release him, “immediately and unconditionally.” The authorities only released him in November 2015.
Karma is just one of many Indonesians targeted under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, which imposes multi-decade prison terms on peaceful protesters advocating independence or other peaceful political change. Many such arrests and prosecutions are of activists who raise banned symbols, such as the Papuan Morning Star or the South Moluccan RMS flags. (Human Rights Watch takes no position on whether Papua should be independent, but we oppose the imprisonment of people who peacefully express support for self-determination.)
Karma’s experience last week was an unwelcome reminder that his freedom remains at risk so long as rights-violating laws are on the books, and that there are Indonesian officials who would rather call him a “monkey” than respect his right to free expression.
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