Responding to the guilty verdict handed down to three Papuans by the Makassar District Court on charges of treason today, the Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, Usman Hamid, said:
“Indonesian authorities must end the misuse of legislation to repress dissenting voices and the right to peacefully assemble and immediately and unconditionally release the three Papuans sentenced today.
“Treason charges have often been used to deny Papuans their right to express themselves culturally and politically, and in this case, has been used against three older people for holding a thanksgiving service.
“The verdict raises serious concerns about the commitment of the Indonesian authorities to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of Papuans without discrimination. Individuals should not be criminalized solely for expressing their opinions or raising political demands.
“We call upon the Indonesian authorities to guarantee the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, as fundamental cornerstones of human rights.”
The Makassar District Court’s Panel of Judges convicted three Papuans today, Hellesvred Bezaliel Soleman Waropen (54); Andreas Sanggenafa (64); and Kostan Karlos Bonay (57), for committing treasonous acts after holding a gathering to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the Federal Republic of West Papua (NRFPB) – which is deemed a Papua separatist movement – in Manokwari on 19 October 2022. Each of them was handed a two-year prison sentence.
Previously, the Public Prosecutor charged them with Article 106 of the Penal Code concerning treason and Article 110 Paragraph 2 on preparing for treason and had called for a sentence of four years.
The three men maintained their innocence, stating the thanksgiving service that celebrated the 11th anniversary of the NRFPB on 19 October 2022 was in exercise of their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and expression, guaranteed by the constitution.
According to Amnesty International Indonesia’s monitoring data from 2019 to 2022, at least 90 people in Papua faced criminal charges and prosecution for allegedly violating treason articles under the Penal Code.
Amnesty International takes no position regarding political status within Indonesia, including calls for independence. However, the organization believes that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate for independence referenda, or other political positions.