Papuan political prisoners still found guilty though their sentences reduced


Jayapura, Jubi – The Balikpapan District Court in East Kalimantan held a verdict against seven Papuan prisoners charged with treason on Wednesday (06/17/2020).

The seven political prisoners are Combo Fery, Alexander Gobay, Buchtar Tabuni, Irwanus Uropmabin, Hengky Hilapok, Steven Itlay and Agus Kossay. They were arrested regarding their roles in an anti-racism demonstration to protest racism towards Papuan students last year.

The panel judges found Steven Itlay and Alexande Gobai guilty and demanded them to get respectively 11 months and ten months sentences.

Itlay, the Chairperson of KNPB Mimika, was previously charged with 15 years, while the President of USTJ Student Executive Board Gobai demanded ten years in prison.


Meanwhile, the Second Chairman of the Legislative Body of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, Buchtar Tabuni gets 11 months (previously 17 years). The Chairperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Agus Kossay gets 11 months (previously charged for 15 years). Meanwhile the Chairman of Cenderawasih University Student Executive Board, Ferry Kombo gets ten months (previously five years); and two Cenderawasih University students Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmabin get respectively ten months ( previously five years).

Concerning this, Steven Itlay expressed his gratitude for the verdict and started to think about whether accepting or rejecting it.

A member of the Law and Human Rights Enforcement Coalition for Papua Gustaf Kawer, as a legal advisor to the political prisoners, said the panel of judges are neutral in taking a verdict lower than the prior indictment by the Public Prosecutor. Kawer stated support from many groups of people to the seven political prisoners made it possible to solve the issues facing Papua, including many cases of human rights violations in Papua.

“We express our gratitude because the judges were neutral in taking the decision. If they were not, I am sure we cannot find any difference in the execution,” Kawer said in Jayapura on Wednesday (17/6/2020).

Students stand in solidarity

Hundreds of Papuan students in Jayapura City staged a peaceful demonstration at the entrance of Cenderawasih University (Uncen) to urge the unconditional release of the Papuan Political prisoners.

The solidarity action called ‘Papua Students in Solidarity’ urged President Joko Widodo to release the seven Papua political prisoners immediately.

“The president must immediately release them because they are not political prisoners but the prisoners of racism, and we know the world hates racism.”

But today, we still see racism in Indonesia, so we, the Papuan Students in Solidarity, ask the government to release them immediately,” said the protest coordinator Ones Busop in his oration.

Solidarity is social capital

Gustaf Kawer said support towards the seven political prisoners reflect people’s movement to combat racism against Papuans. “These supports come from different regions in Papua and raised at the national and international level, ” said Kawer.

Moreover, he said support from the community, local elites, national and foreign supporters are an excellent capture in bringing Papua to a better direction.

‘I think that this enthusiasm should be maintained, not only ahead of the trial, but to unite the Papuan grassroots to elites to push the release of (the political prisoners). “If we can maintain this spirit, it’ll change everything in Papua. For example, human rights violations, discrimination, as well as violations that occurred in the past. Let’s go together (to solve the problems),” he said. (*)


Reporter: Hengky Yeimo and Piter Lokon

Editor: Maizier Pipit

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