Jayapura, Jubi – Rights activist and international Spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Victor Yeimo said that the charges against him seemed forced to fulfill the element of treason offense. In other words, he is criminalized.
Yeimo emphasized that the peaceful protest that took place in Jayapura City on August 19, 2019 had nothing to do with KNPB, the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), or any other pro-Papuan independence political activities at home or abroad. According to him, the Papuan people’s protest was purely motivated by seeing racism and injustice against Papuan students in Surabaya on August 16, 2019.
“The protest has nothing to do with KNPB, ULMWP, and their activities at home and abroad. The protest against racism was purely from the Papuan people. They were triggered by a racist incident in Surabaya. I was there as a participant, and not representing the KNPB, it’s the same with the Papuan Legislative Council, Papuan People’s Council, or the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Police,” said Yeimo after attending the reading of charges at the Jayapura District Court on Monday, February 21, 2022.
Victor Yeimo said he denied the accusations after reviewing all the indictments against him on Monday. “I have read the indictment, and responded to it with legal and political facts, honesty, and truth,” he said.
Yeimo viewed the indictment to him as deviating far from the subject matter of the case, which was the anti-racism protest. The protest was conflated with issues and events that had nothing to do with the case, Yeimo said. “The anti-racism protest is the case. And it has nothing to do with the rest of the allegations described at length in the indictment,” he said.
He said the charges against him showed nothing but the public prosecutor’s assumptions. “I, as the defendant, was not there [in the protest] as a representative of KNPB, I am neither the administrator nor chairman, and I did not plan or lead the action,” he said.
Yeimo said the indictment had even stated the people considered as initiators of the 2019 protest. “I was only involved as a participant in the 2019 protest, and the protest went peaceful. I reject the subjective assumptions that link my presence at the anti-racism protest to my position at KNPB or Benny Wenda’s political activities at the United Nations. The protest that I participated in had no connection with the KNPB, ULMWP, Benny Wenda, and others. It is purely related to racism,” he said.
Yeimo said it was clear that the speeches delivered on August 19 and 29 were talking about anti-racism. “The speeches were related to racism, as part of public criticism and urging the government to take action to stop racism,” he said.
He further said the charges against him were based on political assumptions rather than objective reasons. “I consider I was arrested and put on trial because of the authority’s political interests, without independence, professionalism, and proportionality in upholding justice, truth, and peace,” Yeimo said.
“Indicting a political case before the court, under the article of treason, does not reflect the authority and presence of the state in resolving the Papuan political conflict. Papuan political aspirations should be resolved by political means. The legal approach has been proven to fail and has actually led to an irreconcilable, bloody conflict,” said Yeimo.
He said that the political aspirations and struggles of the Papuan people were not new, and had been carried out by many figures other than himself. “I and various parties have written, studied, and expressed political aspirations about different views that must be resolved in a peaceful way, not by law and security, not by weapons and prisons, which will only foster conflict,” he added.
Victor Yeimo’s lawyer Gustaf Kawer said that all the accusations against Victor Yeimo were obscure because the public prosecutor mixed up the facts of various events. He said that he would file an exception on September 25, 2022.
“We will raise our objections. Later at the trial, we will also ask for certainty so that our client is really given a safe place and proper treatment in his current detention center and the trial process is not delayed anymore,” he said. (*)
Reporter: Hengky Yeimo
Editor: Aryo Wisanggeni G