Nabire, Jubi – UK-based rights NGO Tapol and human rights lawyer Veronica Koman has urged the United Nations special rapporteur to send an urgent appeal to the Indonesian government, demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Papuan activist Victor Yeimo.
Yeimo, who is the international spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) and initiator of the Papuan People Petition, was arrested by the police on May 9, 2021. He was accused of eleven charges including treason for his involvement in the antiracism protest in Papua and West Papua in 2019.
Pelagio Doutel of Tapol expressed his concern on Yeimo’s condition since the police prohibited Yeimo’s family to visit him and his lawyers from accompanying Yeimo during interrogation.
“Yeimo’s lawyers are prohibited from accompanying him during the interrogation. No one is allowed to visit him, not even family members. The police have also transferred Yeimo [from Papua Police headquarters] to the Papua Mobile Brigade [Brimob] headquarters without prior notification to his lawyers,” Doutel said.
Veronica Koman also worried about Yeimo’s safety. She reminded that Yeimo had experienced persecution by the security forces during his previous detain. According to the Papuans Behind Bars report, Yeimo was detained in 2009 and 2013.
“Victor Yeimo has a history of being tortured by police officers. Therefore, we will continue to communicate with UN officials to update the development following his arrest including further investigation and possible persecution,” said Koman.
Moreover, the Papuan Law Enforcement and Human Rights Coalition, which become Yeimo’s legal advisor, said that Yeimo’s arrest failed to comply with Law No. 8/1981 on criminal procedural law. The arrest was made on May 9 but the coalition only received the letter of arrest the day after.
“Not only that, we are not allowed to accompany Yeimo during the investigation. In fact, Yeimo was not only charged with treason but also alleged of violating Article 170 Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, which allows the lawyer to accompany the suspect,” said the coalition’s litigation coordinator Emanuel Gobay in a written statement received by Jubi on May 11.
Gobay also mentioned that Yeimo’s room in the Papua Brimob headquarters was lacking ventilation and fresh air. He said his party had asked the police to move Yeimo to a better detention room.
Previously, Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Mathius D Fakhiri said the police had named Victor Yeimo a suspect related to the antiracism protest turned riots in Jayapura City in 2019. He was accused of not only treason but also violating articles on flags and state symbols, provoking to fight against authorities, using common force to commit violence, arson, and theft.
“We arrested Yeimo based on a lot of reports. First, we detained him for allegedly provoking the 2019 riots,” Fakhiri said on May 10.
Reporter: Zely Ariane
Editor: Aryo Wisanggeni G