Update: January 2013


Papuans Behind Bars is a new project about political prisoners in West Papua. Our aim is to provide accurate and transparent data, published in English and Indonesian, to facilitate direct support for prisoners and promote wider debate and campaigning in support of free expression in West Papua.

Papuans Behind Bars is a collective project initiated by Papuan civil society groups working together as the Civil Society Coalition to Uphold Law and Human Rights in Papua. It is a grassroots initiative and represents a broad collaboration between lawyers, human rights groups, adat groups, activists, journalists and individuals in West Papua, Jakarta-based NGOs and international solidarity groups.

The project holds records of over 200 current and former political prisoners and the website – www.papuansbehindbars.org – will go live in March. We will publish monthly Updates, providing alerts on political arrests and a round-up of latest developments affecting Papuan political prisoners. The January Update is the first in the series.

Questions and comments are welcomed, and you can write to us at [email protected]

In brief

At the end of January 2013 there were 33 political prisoners in Papuan jails. Two political prisoners were released and there were at least seven political arrests. Trials began for the Timika treason and explosives case and the Serui Indigenous people’s day case, and trials for the Wamena explosives case and Dani Kogoya case were expected to begin soon. The three-year sentences of two men who raised the flag at a demonstration in May 2012, Darius Kogoya and Timur Wakerkwa, were submitted for appeal to the Jayapura High Court. The Mantembu ‘TPN camp’ case has yet to come to trial.

Parole requests are pending for Apotnalogolik Lokobal, Kimanus Wenda and Linus Hiluka, all serving long sentences in connection with the raid on the Wamena military arsenal in 2003. In connection with the same case, requests were submitted to commute the life sentences of Jefrai Murib and Numbungga Telenggen to fixed term sentences. A request for clemency submitted in 2010 on behalf of six political prisoners currently held in Wamena prison has still met with no response from the government.


Seven activists arrested in Mantembu

Seven activists were reportedly arrested in Mantembu village, Yapen island on 16 January 2013, ahead of demonstrations planned for the next day. The seven were named as Yohan Ayum, Lamkiur Ayum, Penina Pangkurei, Oki Warkawani, Mambiwa Wandamani, Simeon Ayum, and Isak Warkawani. They were reportedly arrested for allegedly supporting Papuan independence. It is not yet known whether the seven are still in detention, or whether they have been charged.


Buchtar Tabuni released, secures release of Simeon Dabi

On 18 January at 09:00, Buchtar Tabuni, an activist in the West Papua National Committee (Komisi Nasional Papua Barat,KNPB) and leader of the unofficial West Papua National Parliament, was released after completing an eight-month prison sentence. He had been convicted for allegedly leading a riot in Abepura prison in 2010. The riot broke out when inmates heard that a former prisoner, Miron Wetipo, had been shot dead shortly after escaping. Mr Tabuni, who was in prison for leading a demonstration at the time, has always maintained that he was simply trying to mediate the situation in the jail.

Buchtar Tabuni’s first act on being let out of prison was to walk to the site where fellow KNPB leader Mako Tabuni was shot dead by police one week after the re-arrest of Buchtar Tabuni. Shortly afterwards he flew to Wamena, where he reportedly went to police headquarters to try and ensure the release of KNPB members accused of possessing explosives. He offered to act as a guarantor that they would not run away or commit acts of violence. On these terms the police agreed to release Wamena KNPB leader Simeon Dabi, although the others remained in jail.

On 6 February Buchtar Tabuni continued to Timika, where he also called on the six KNPB members being held in prison there, on the day before their first trial hearing. The KNPB reported that he told them: “Now you’re in the little prison, but if they let you out you’ll be in the big prison. In the little prison everything is provided – food, water, a place to sleep. But on the outside finding food and drink is tough, moving about is tough, cultivating a piece of land is tough – everything is tough, that’s why the big prison is outside.”

Political trials and cases overview

While some ongoing political trials can be seen as ‘purely’ political cases, others allegedly involve criminal as well as political elements. An example is the case of Jayapura-based OPM leader Dani Kogoya and four other people, who stand accused of involvement in what are known as the Nafri murders. Because these cases are more complex, Papuans Behind Bars is not able to determine whether the defendants are political prisoners until the outcomes of their trials are known. We are, however, concerned that the defendants are at risk of not receiving adequate legal representation or a fair trial due to the apparent political nature of the trials and the stigma around them.

Serui: Indigenous people’s day case

Edison Kendi and Yan Piet Maniamboi are both activists with the West Papua National Authority who took part in a demonstration on 9 August 2012 in Serui, to commemorate the UN Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples. At least six demonstrators were arrested, some were beaten, and Mr Kendi and Mr Maniamboi were charged with treason and incitement. They had the first session of their court hearing on 29 January 2013.

Local human rights defenders who have visited the two men say that they are ill due to the prison conditions and the torture they have suffered. Edison Kendi in particular was reportedly badly beaten by the police Mobile Brigade when he was arrested.

Edison Kendi has also stated that since his arrest, his 11-year-old son Desyudi has been intimidated by an intelligence agent named Rian who has frequently visited the family house to ask questions about his father. He was so scared he moved to a different village, only to be followed by the same agent, threatening that his father would be kept in prison for life or be killed. The boy was also reportedly forced to leave school, without being told the reason by school authorities.

Wamena: explosives case

Combined police and military forces raided the Wamena KNPB secretariat on 29 September 2012. Two small explosions had taken place in the city that month. On arresting eight people, the police also claimed to have found two ready-assembled bombs in the building. Another person was arrested on 13 October, and several more on 16 December.

As noted above, Buchtar Tabuni has attempted to secure their release, but so far has only been able to persuade the police to release one man, Simeon Dabi. It is thought that some form of plea bargaining is ongoing between police and some of the suspects, which lawyers report may be a strategy to cause divisions in the movement.

Eight of those arrested are expected to face trial, with the first hearing due to start on 5 February. It is believed they are charged with possession of explosives under the 1951 Emergency Law 12. The eight believed to be facing trial are Edo Doga, Yan Yunus Wamu, Jemi Mabel, Melias Kosay, Ribka Kosay (female), Yusuf Hiluka, Lucky Matuan, and Athys Wenda.

The eight are without legal representation, and while they have appealed for Jayapura-based human rights lawyers to represent them, they have been unable to pay transport and accommodation costs for the lawyers (who rarely charge legal fees). The cost of return tickets for two lawyers from Jayapura to Wamena, plus accommodation for two nights is around IDR 4,000,000 (around USD 400). Persons tried in political cases Wamena, particularly those with little or no legal representation, have historically received harsh sentences as a result of questionable trials.

Timika: treason and explosives case

On 19 October, a few weeks after the first arrests in Wamena, police descended on the KNPB headquarters in Timika and prominent KNPB leaders’ homes. Police arrested around twelve people in all, of which six have been held to face trial: Steven Itlay, Romario Yatipai, Paulus Marsyom, Yantho Awerkion, Jack/Yakonias Wonsior, and Alfret Marsyom. According to the lawyers’ demurrer, the case appears to focus on several peaceful demonstrations which had been carried out by the KNPB in Timika during 2011 and 2012. They defendants state that they were beaten and forced to confess to making arrows to use at the demonstrations, and also that they were planning to hold a demonstration on the day of their arrest.

When the six were arrested, the charges were initially similar to those in the Wamena explosive case (see above); possession of explosives as covered by the 1951 Emergency Law 12. However, it appears that most of the six will not ultimately be charged with this offence. Only Yantho Awerkion is still facing the original charge, for possessing material commonly used for dynamite fishing. The others are now charged with treason, under Article 106 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code, which has long been used to criminalise many forms of dissent in West Papua.

The KNPB has reported that the trial is starting on 7 February. The KNPB in both Timika and Wamena have strongly denied that their members were involved in any conspiracy to make bombs, and allege that the accusations are part of a strategy to discredit and criminalise their organisation.

Jayapura: Dani Kogoya Case

Another case due to come to trial in early February 2013 is that of Dani Kogoya and four others; Albert/Lambertus Siep, Tandius Kogoya, Yupinus Dabi and Gidi Wenda, accused of carrying out a raid in Nafri village near Jayapura on 1 August 2011. A group of people cut down trees to block the entrance to the village, then attacked people who passed by, killing one military officer and three civilians.

Dani Kogoya is known as the local OPM leader and was swiftly blamed for the attack, as he had been for another attack at the same place in late 2010. Eventually he was arrested in Jayapura on 2 September 2012. At least twenty-two others were also arrested, of whom six were initially held as suspects. Five people including Mr Kogoya are now facing trial.

Mr Kogoya, who was denied access to a lawyer for around a week following his arrest, reportedly admitted to the 2011 attack while under police interrogation, and during a press conference organised by the police, where he seemed to express regret for the killings and explained he was acting under orders from his superiors in the OPM. Nevertheless, he is still entitled to his right to a fair trial. Regardless of the facts of the case, there are two major concerns: 1) the violent reputation which has been constructed around Mr Kogoya by the police and media, and 2) the torture, violence and arbitrary arrests which occurred during the investigation, including the alleged disappearance of an eight-year-old child.

Firstly, an air of sensationalism surrounds the case. Dani Kogoya’s name has been demonised by security forces who have publically accused him of various violent incidents occurring around the Jayapura area. Indeed, months before his arrest, the leader of the Jayapura branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists, Victor Mambor, warned the public to be cautious of any reports that mentioned Dani Kogoya’s name, as this was one hallmark of reports that might be manipulative, deceitful or biased towards the authorities.

Secondly, serious human rights abuses have already taken place as the case developed; on 31 August 2011 a combined army and police operation swooped on the Wahno hill area of Kotaraja Luar, Jayapura, looking for perpetrators of the attack in Nafri. They demanded to know the whereabouts of Dani Kogoya, Gidi Wenda and others, using extreme intimidation and torture, including forcing the local leader (lurah) to dig a hole at gunpoint. That day they arrested and maltreated 15 people, beating them and forcing them to lie on the ground for hours, then inside a locked truck under the hot sun. Two men were held for a longer period; Ekimar Kogoya was eventually released three months later, but Penius Kogoya was tried and sentenced to three years for allegedly having participated in the Nafri attack.

There are also reports that Desi Kogoya, Dani Kogoya’s eight-year-old daughter, was taken away by police during the raid and her whereabouts were unknown until she was returned to the community one week later.

One year later, on 2 September 2012, Dani Kogoya was arrested. Mainstream media reports indicate that he was arrested in a hotel in Entrop Jayapura, together with two other people. Police claim that Dani Kogoya tried to escape arrest and so they shot him in the leg. The resulting injury meant that his leg needed to be amputated.

The first hearing in this case was on 4 February. It is also of concern that all the witnesses for the prosecution appear to be police officers, suggesting that there may not be much, if any, evidence against the men. We understand that this is a difficult case, where deadly violence was used against civilians. Previously in cases of political violence the trials have been motivated by politics and emotion, and far from fair, such as the trials for the Abepura case after a demonstration against the Freeport mine turned violent in 2006. Our sincere hope is that the trial will be fair, that evidence will be evaluated without presumption or bias and that there is no intimidation of suspects, witnesses or lawyers.

Serui: TPN camp case

Two men arrested under suspicion of involvement with a TPN (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional, National Liberation Army) camp are still in detention in Serui prison. Jon Nuntian and Jamal Omrik Manitori, arrested on 29 May 2012 and 3 July 2012 respectively, are thought to have been detained in connection with the same case, and are both charged with treason. The arrest on 29 May took place during a raid, which was part of a chain of events in the Angkaisera area during May and June. On 12 May another raid had taken place in a nearby village, where local newspaper Tabloid Jubi reported that a 16 year old boy was threatened with a pistol to his head. On the night of 29 May, the Umagi news pro-independence website reported that military troops had burned houses in Wanampompi village, and at the same time arrested Mr Nuntian. That report describes Mr Nuntian as an ordinary civilian.

Reports vary on what was meant by a TPN/OPM training camp. Several reports indicate that the only weapons seized by police were items which would be legitimately owned by villagers anywhere, such as machetes and an air gun. A police source reported by Tabloid Jubi and a military source reported by TribunNews both provide a longer list of confiscated items which includes a firearm, and camping equipment such as large tents. However the two lists are significantly different.

Tabloid Jubi has also reported that shortly after John Nuntian’s arrest, a demonstration took place at Yapen District Legislative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah, DPRD) demanding the release of John Nuntian and protesting the arbitrary violence that had occurred. Three women were arrested that morning because they were wearing t-shirts with images of the banned Morning Star flag. They were held until that night. A man who was also arrested later said that police officers had taken IDR 502,000 from him (around USD 50).

Jayapura: Flag-raising case

Two men have been convicted of treason for raising the Morning Star flag at a demonstration in Jayapura on 1 May 2012. The demonstration, held at the Theys Eluay memorial park, was requesting protection for human rights. Darius Kogoya and Timur Wakerkwa were sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment by the Jayapura State Court, and are detained in Abepura prison. Their case is currently being appealed to the High Court in Jayapura.


Clemency request for Wamena prisoners still ignored

Lawyers representing six political prisoners in Wamena prison have submitted a request for clemency. Four of the men, Meki Elosak, Obeth Kosay, Oskar Hilago and Wiki Meaga, are serving eight year sentences for carrying a Morning Star flag to a funeral in Yalengga. The verdict was not appealed due to lack of legal funds, and their case has been all but forgotten, leaving them to spend eight years in jail for an act of peaceful political expression.

The fifth person is Yusanur Wenda who was arrested in Wunin in the Central Highlands in 2004, in a complicated treason case for which he is now serving a 17 year sentence (the other six prisoners from this case have either been released or escaped).

The sixth person, Dipenus Wenda, was arrested in 2004 while handing out flyers urging people to boycott local elections in Bokondini. He is serving a 14 year sentence. The request for clemency, submitted in 2010, has so far met with no response.

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression postpones his visit to Indonesia

Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression was due to visit Indonesia on 14 January 2013. Indonesia had invited him in June last year, during its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, a process by which a country’s human rights performance is assessed by other UN member states every four years. A number of states recommended that the Special Rapporteur be allowed to visit Indonesia.

Some days before the planned visit, it became evident that Mr La Rue would only be able to visit Jakarta and Sampang prison in Madura, where a Shia cleric was imprisoned for blasphemy after his house had been burned down by angry local Sunni Muslims. Mr La Rue would not be able to visit West Papua and Ambon in Maluku province.

A government spokesperson interviewed by Metro TV said that all foreigners wanting to enter West Papua had needed a permit ever since 1963. When asked why this was, he referred to possible security disturbances. Information obtained by the West Papua Advocacy Team suggests that Mr La Rue postponed his visit because he was not allowed to visit prisoners in Jayapura and Ambon.

Meanwhile Papuan activists both inside and outside prison have urged Mr La Rue to visit West Papua. Victor Yeimo, former political prisoner and leader of the KNPB, encouraged him to meet Filep Karma and other political prisoners, and address the issue of KNPB members and others who have been accused of treason, terrorism or security disturbances. Selpius Bobii, head of Pepera PB who is in prison for his part in organising the Third Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011, also welcomed Mr La Rue’s action of delaying his visit until he was allowed to set his own agenda. Bobii urged the Indonesian Government to immediately open access for foreign journalists and human rights workers to enter West Papua and Ambon.

January 2013 Papuan political prisoners

Prisoner Arrest date Sentence Case Prison
Apotnalogolik Lokobal 10 April 2003 20 years Wamena ammunition store raid Biak
Numbungga Telenggen 11 April 2003 Life Wamena ammunition store raid Biak
Kimanus Wenda 12 April 2003 20 years Wamena ammunition store raid Nabire
Linus Hiel Hiluka 27 May 2003 20 years Wamena ammunition store raid Nabire
Jefrai Murib 12 April 2003 Life Wamena ammunition store raid Abepura
Luis Gede 16 March 2006 15 years Abepura case 2006 Abepura
Ferdinand Pakage 16 March 2006 15 years Abepura case 2006 Abepura
Filep Karma 1 December 2004 15 years Abepura flag-raising 2004 Abepura
George Ariksi 13 March 2009 5 years Unknown Manokwari
Dipenus Wenda 28 March 2004 14 years Bokondini election boycott Wamena
Yusanur Wenda 30 April 2004 17 years Wunin arrests Wamena
Obed Kosay 20 November 2010 8 years Yalengga flag-raising Wamena
Meki Elosak 20 November 2010 8 years Yalengga flag-raising Wamena
Oskar Hilago 20 November 2010 8 years Yalengga flag-raising Wamena
Wiki Meaga 20 November 2010 8 years Yalengga flag-raising Wamena
Selphius Bobii 20 October 2011 3 years Third Papua Congress Abepura
August Kraar 19 October 2011 3 years Third Papua Congress Abepura
Dominikus Surabut 19 October 2011 3 years Third Papua Congress Abepura
Edison Waromi 19 October 2011 3 years Third Papua Congress Abepura
Forkorus Yaboisembut 19 October 2011 3 years Third Papua Congress Abepura
Darius Kogoya 1 May 2012 3 years 1 May demo and flag-raising Abepura
Timur Wakerkwa 1 May 2012 3 years 1 May demo and flag-raising Abepura
Edison Kendi 9 August 2012 Trial ongoing Indigenous people’s day celebrations, Yapen Serui
Yan Piet Maniamboy 9 August 2012 Trial ongoing Indigenous people’s day celebrations, Yapen Serui
Yusak Pakageii 23 July 2012 7 months Trial of Buchtar Tabuni Abepura
Jon Nuntian 29 May 2012 Not yet tried Serui ‘TPN camp’ case Serui
Jamal Omrik Manitori 3 July 2012 Not yet tried Serui ‘TPN camp’ case Serui
Stephen Itlay 19 October 2012 Trial ongoing Timika explosives case Timika
Romario Yatipai 19 October 2012 Trial ongoing Timika explosives case Timika
Paulus Marsyom 19 October 2012 Trial ongoing Timika explosives case Timika
Yantho Awerkion 19 October 2012 Trial ongoing Timika explosives case Timika
Jack Wansior 19 October 2012 Trial ongoing Timika explosives case Timika
Alfret Marsyom 19 October 2012 Trial ongoing Timika explosives case Timika

i George Ariks is named on a government list of Papuan prisoners leaked to TAPOL in early 2011. It is possible he has already been released on parole but this has not yet been confirmed.

ii Yusak Pakage was released on 19 February 2013 after serving his sentence, but was still in detention during the period covered by this update.