Papua, Jubi – Many elements of civil society in Papua unite in a movement to support the release of seven Papuan political prisoners.
They are including the Interfaith Leaders Association in Papua, the Indigenous Catholic Priests in Papua, the Papuan People’s Assembly, the Papuan House of Representatives, the Muslim Communication Forum of the Central Papuan Highlands, the Independent Forum of West Papuan Student, West Papuan National Committee, human rights defenders and activists. All unite in one commitment, one soul for one goal.
They sent a letter to President Joko Widodo, which substantially asked the central government in Jakarta for being wise and prudent in addressing many issues that occurred in Papua. Also, they asked the authority to release the seven political prisoners who are currently undergoing their trial in Balikpapan District Court, Kalimantan Timur. The detainees are students and activists who were arrested after the demonstration to protest racism against Papuan students in Surabaya.
The seven political prisoners are Alex Gobay (President of Student Association of the University of Science and Technology Jayapura), Feri Bom Kombo (former Chairman of Executive Student Board of Cenderawasih University), Buchtar Tabuni (Second Deputy Chairman of Legislative Council of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua), Agus Kossay (General Chairman of West Papuan National Committee), Steven Itlay (Chairman of West Papuan National Committee Timika), Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmabin.
Concerning the indictment by the public prosecutor, the Interfaith Leaders Association in Papua asked the state to present and take action to solve the issue of racism and enforce fair and dignified law in Papua.
The Rev. Hiskia Rollo as the Coordinator of Framers Team of the Interfaith Leaders Association in Papua said they considered the charge against the seven Papuan political prisoners was not fair because it contradicted with the facts.
“All witnesses presented by the public prosecutor, six were police officers from Papua Police and one from the National Unity and Politics Agency of Papua. Therefore, what they revealed in the court were contradicted [with the facts],” said Rollo in the press conference held in the office of the Evangelical Christian Church of Papua, Jayapura City, Friday, (12/6/2020).
“If we do not convey these devout voices, we are worried this nation will struggle with turmoil. [That is] so risky. It can trigger a national disintegration and eliminate the sense of public trust toward the state,” said Rollo.
The religious leaders, therefore, ask the court to be fair toward the seven Papuan political prisoners. They agreed that this trial was a result of racism instead of treason.
The Chairman of Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Papua, Mufti Saiful Islam Al Payage said the state should be able to differentiate the treason movement and reaction against racism.
Earlier, the Coordinator of Papua Peaceful Network, Pastor John Bunai Pr, who represents indigenous Catholic pastors from five dioceses in Papua, said the reaction of some Indonesian showed that they are superior to Papuans.
This attitude has existed and would continue to cultivate, maintain, fertilise, accept and normalise as the truth, that in turn emerge what is called the ideology of racism.
“If this view is accepted as an ideology, therefore, [some of] Indonesians would never consider Papuans as human. So, we, on behalf of the indigenous catholic pastors from five dioceses [in Papua], firmly refuse all taunts, attitudes and discriminatory acts toward Papuans on the land of their ancestors, or in other Indonesian regions,” said Father Bunai.
Meanwhile, the Communication Muslim Forum of Papuan Central Highlands (FKMPT) asked President Joko Widodo and Vice President Ma’ruf Amin to release the seven Papuan political prisoners.
“I ask for the immediate release of those Papuan young men who are victims [of racism]. It’s not fair if they got a sentence of five to seventeen years in jail. It is so unfair,” said Ismail Asso.
He suggested the current leaders learn from President Abdurahman Wahid, who always tried to understand any differences by respecting Papuans. Wahid recognised the Papuan symbols and the name of Papua. He accepted the Morning Star flag as Papuan symbol, and never prohibited people selling the traditional sac ‘noken’ with a Papuan flag motif.
“Gus Dur recognised it as a symbol. The cultural approach is important in developing Papua,” he said.
Separately, the leaders and members of Papuan parliament agreed to write a letter to President Joko Widodo to protest the public prosecutor’s indictment over the seven Papuan political prisoners in Kalimantan Timur that they thought too high.
Meanwhile, Laurenzus Kadepa, a member of government, politics, law and human rights commission of Papuan Parliament, said the concession among the parliament members to write a letter to President Jokowi been decided in a meeting attended by the parliament leaders, faction leaders, and all members of parliament’s fractions of the Papuan House of Representatives on Thursday (11/6/2020).
In the trial held in Balikpapan District Court on 2 June and 5 June 2020, the public prosecutor charged the seven Papuan political prisoners with five to seventeen years sentences.
Buchtar Tabuni is facing the longest sentence, 17 years in prison, while Steven Itlay and Agus Kossay were each sentenced to 15 years. Alexander Gobay and Ferry Kombo were each sentenced to 10 years, whereas Irwanus Uropmabin and Hengky Hilapok were each sentenced to five years in prison. (*)
Reporter: Team Jubi
Editor: Pipit Maizier