Responding to the conviction of seven Papuan activists and prisoners of conscience (PoCs) at Balikpapan District Court today, East Kalimantan, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said:
“The Indonesian authorities should immediately and unconditionally release seven activists and PoCs convicted and sentenced today simply for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. They should never have been arrested, detained or tried in the first place.
“Once again, treason charges are being misused by the Indonesian authorities to target Papuans who are peacefully expressing their opinions. We call on the authorities to repeal or amend these vague and deeply flawed treason provisions and to stop their relentless harassment, intimidation and attacks on peaceful critics, from Papua and beyond.”
On 17 June 2020, judges at the Balikpapan District Court, East Kalimantan, convicted and sentenced the seven Papuan prisoners of conscience (PoCs) to 10-11 months imprisonment for their involvement in antiracism protests Jayapura, Papua, in August 2019.
The seven PoCs sentenced today are as follows:
- Buchtar Tabuni, sentenced to 11 months imprisonment
- Fery Kombo, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment
- Irwanus Uropmabin, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment
- Agus Kossay, sentenced to 11 months imprisonment
- Stevanus Itlay, sentenced to 11 months imprisonment
- Alexander Gobay, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment
- Hengky Hilapok, sentenced to 10 months imprisonment
All of them were previously arrested in Jayapura in September 2019 for joining peaceful anti-racism protests one month before. The protest followed an incident where Papuan university students living in a dormitory in Surabaya, East Java, were attacked verbally and physically by security personnel and members of mass organizations.
The panel of judges has found the seven PoCs guilty of committing treasonous act and violating Article 106 of the Criminal Code Law in relation to the Article 55 (1) on treason.
Article 106 of the Criminal Code authorizes the courts to sentence a person “to life imprisonment or a maximum of twenty years imprisonment for treason with the intent to bring the territory of the state in whole or in part under foreign domination or to separate part thereof.” In addition, Article 110 stipulates that conspiracy to commit treason is punishable as a violation of Article 106. The Indonesian authorities have used these criminal code provisions to persecute dozens of peaceful pro-independence political activists in Maluku and Papua over the last decade.
The restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression imposed under Articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code go beyond the permissible limitations allowed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party.
Amnesty International takes no position on the political status of any province of Indonesia, including on calls for independence. However, we campaign for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly , which includes the right to peacefully advocate for independence or any other political ideas that do not advocate hatred constituting incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. The government has consistently persecuted peaceful activists simply for expressing their views.