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Indonesia: Stop deprivation of liberty and arbitrary arrest in Papua
Asian Human Rights Commission Statement - June 20, 2018
On 21 November 2017, members of the Jayapura District Police arbitrarily arrested 14 indigenous Papuans in Nimbontong District, while they were on their way home to Juk Lereh, Genyem District. During the detention at the Sub-district police station, the arrestees were accused of being members of the armed separatist movement. The police prevented a lawyer and a local journalist from meeting with the arrestees.
The 14 Papuans had come to Doyo Baru to attend the burial ceremony of a relative. Upon arrival, they found out that the family member had not passed away, so the group decided to stay in Doyo Baru overnight and go back to Juk-Lereh the next day. On November 21, at 6:30 a.m., the group departed from their accommodation in Doyo Baru and waited at the road junction to Genyem to find a bus that could take them to Juk-Lereh.
Two strangers on a motorcycle approached the waiting group. One of them introduced himself as Matius Wenda, who gave one of the group members, Botak Tabuni, a document, saying "You all have supported us with your money so here is your acknowledgment letter". The letter was from the 'Revolutionary Army of West Papua'. After handing over the letter, Matius Wenda and his friend left the group. The bus to Juk Lereh arrived at around 7 a.m., and the group entered the bus.
On the way to Genyem, joint police and military members had a control point in the Nombontong area. The security officers stopped the bus and gave the order that all passengers had to leave the bus, while leaving their luggage. Subsequently the officers searched the passengers' luggage inside the bus. One of the officers took Botak Tabuni's mobile phone and bag. Moreover, the police confiscated a knife, two long machetes and two cassowary bones, which are commonly used as traditional tools to open Pandanus fruits. The police arrested the 14 Papuan men. Around 5 p.m., the group was brought to the Jayapura District Police Station in Doyo Baru- Sentani. On the way to the Police station one police officer said "If anyone does not follow our orders, we will get rid of you".
Around 12 p.m., the police started to interrogate the group members for approximately two and a half hours. Botak Tabuni, Tap Gombo, Tomatias Gombo dan Yunus Wanimbo were accused of being members of the armed separatist movement TPN-OPM. Police officers repeatedly asked them "how many soldiers have you killed? So you are already in the rank of generals – where were you inaugurated?". The four men answered that they were civil citizens working at the Palm Oil Company of PT. Sinar Mas and that they were not involved in the struggle for West Papuan independence. They explained that they had come to Sentani after they had received the news regarding the death of a relative.
After the interrogation, the group was brought to a detention cell. A lawyer Mercy Waromi who wanted to provide legal assistance to the detainees was prevented from entering the police station and had to wait at the security post, at the entrance gate. The officers also stopped a journalist from the local news outlet JUBI, who wanted to enter the police station.
During the detention period from 9 a.m. on November 21 to 2 p.m. on November 22, the detainees were not provided with food. Each of them only got a bottle (600 ml) of water on November 21, at 4 p.m. They were only given food after being released at 2p.m. on November 22.
On Friday, 30 June 2017, the KNPB discussed an event to be held on July 1. Subsequently, on July 1 at 8:15 a.m., before the event, KNPB and its members prepared a list of members who will distribute printed statements in Nabire. At 9:20 a.m., all the members left the secretariat and went to the street to distribute the statements.
After the distribution, all the members came back to the secretariat, and they informed that nothing happened while they were giving out the statements on the street. However, then they realized that one of the members, Mr. Yanto Waine, had not yet returned. They went to search for Yanto's whereabouts, and two days later, on July 3, they got information that Yanto was arrested while distributing printed statements on the street.
After learning that Yanto Waine was detained in Nabire Police Office (Polres Nabire), on July 4, at 12 noon, around 30 KNPB members went to the police office and requested to the police to release Yanto, who had been illegally detained for four days since July 1. Finally, at 3 p.m., the KNPB members were forced to leave the police office and move to the main road, while two members, Mr. Andi Ekapiya Yeimo and Mr. Samuel Kobepa were detained.
At 4 p.m., the members waiting on the road were invited by the police officers to the police office's front yard, where a police officer explained that Yanto Waine, Andi Ekapiya Yeimo and Samuel Kobepa will be released in the evening or maybe on July 5. After that, one of the KNPB members stated that, "If you do not release them, then tomorrow we will be coming back." In response, one police officer stated, "Up to you, whether you will be coming alone or you will bring more people." Finally, the KNPB members left the Nabire Police office. At the time of writing, the three KNPB members are still detained at the police office.
On 30 May 2017, Indonesian security forces forcibly dispersed a mass prayer organized in Wamena and Merauke, Papua province. They also targeted members of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB). On May 31, the security forces arrested 77 people in Merauke, Papua. They are activists of KNPB and also Local People Assembly (PRD), who were gathering for prayers when the security forces arrested them and forcibly dispersed the ceremony. Despite all of them being released subsequently, many of them suffer trauma and face uncertain human rights protection.
Learning from above-mentioned situations, the AHRC calls for the Indonesian police to avoid conducting arbitrary arrests. The police should obey with the rule of law and due process of law as mandated by the Indonesian Constitution (UUD 1945), in particular article 1, paragraph 3: "The State of Indonesia shall be a state based on the rule of law." State based on the rule of law means that the law should be a solution for any problems that arise in the life of the state and society.
The police must also act in accordance with the provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Code Procedure (KUHAP), which regulates arrest procedures. Similarly, the police must also take into account international treaties that Indonesia is party to, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 9(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is clear: "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be Deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law." It is crucial that this is implemented on the ground.
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