Jayapura, Jubi – Four Papuan political activists have been detained since 19 December 2016 in Manado, North Sulawesi Province for “rebellion” (makar). Detained solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, the men are considered prisoners of conscience.
Hiskia Meage, Emanuel Ukago, Panus Hesegem and William Wim are members of a pro-Papuan independence organization, the West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) in Manado, North Sulawesi Province, and were among at least 70 individuals who were arrested by the Manado Resort Police (Polres) on 19 December 2016. The Papuan activists were protesting in support of the acceptance of the peaceful Papuan pro-independence umbrella group, United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), as a full member of Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), a sub-Pacific intergovernmental organization. The protest also coincided with the anniversary of Indonesia’s first military operation in Papua (Operasi Trikora) in 1961 when it was a Dutch colony.
The protest was part of simultaneous demonstrations organized by KNPB in cities across Indonesia, including Jayapura, Merauke, Wamena, Nabire in West Papua Province, Manado in North Sulawesi Province, Gorontalo and Yogyakarta. At least 528 people, including children, were arrested nationwide on 19 December 2016. Most were released without charge the following day.
Currently detained in the Manado Resort Police headquarters, North Sulawesi Province, Hiskia Meage, Emanuel Ukago, Panus Hesegem and William Wim have been charged with “rebellion” (makar) under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) and could face life imprisonment.
“We inviting all of you you to write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet: Immediately and unconditionally release Hiskia Meage, Emanuel Ukago, Panus Hesegem and William Wim and drop the charges against them as they have been arrested solely for the peaceful exercise of their human right to freedom of expression; Ensure that pending their release, Hiskia Meage, Emanuel Ukago, Panus Hesegem and William Wim are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and have regular access to their family, lawyer of their choice; Stop evoking vague and overbroad legislation to arrest, prosecute and punish persons for peacefully exercising their human rights,” Amnesty International wrote in their press release.
Irjen Bambang Waskito
North Sulawesi Regional Police Headquarters
Jl. Bethesda No. 62, Manado
Fax: +62 (0)431 841998
Salutation: Dear Inspector General
Ambassador Budi Bowoleksono
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20036
Salutation: Dear Ambassador