Court proceedings have begun in the cases of
two Papuans arrested in connection with organizing a
peaceful, pro-independence rally to commemorate West Papua's
traditional "national day," December 1.
According to the Jakarta
12), Yusuk Pakage, 26, was charged in a hearing January 12,
in which he had no legal representation. Filip Karma, 45,
was due to be charged the same day, for the same December 1
rally but refused to participate in the hearing that was to
set the charges, because he did not have legal counsel
present. Karma's trial began on 20 January. He is charged
with seeking to separate West Papua from the Indonesian
state ñ a charge for which he faces a possible life sentence
or a 20-year sentence, under Article 106 of the Criminal
Code. He is also charged under Article 154 with expressing
hostility or hatred towards the state, the maximum penalty
for which is seven years. Pakage is believed to be facing
Both men are being held in detention in Jayapura.
In a January 24 report, the U.K.-based
Indonesian Human Rights Campaign (TAPOL) gives the following
account of the trial proceedings: Karma arrived in court
wearing his uniform as a local government official; his
yellow shirt was emblazoned with a Morning Star, the emblem
of the Papuan people in their struggle for independence.
Before entering the courthouse, Karma, who
was carrying a Bible, conducted prayers and read verses
17:33-45 from Samuel I which relates the encounter between
David and Goliath.
Following the prayers, the two men held a
brief meeting with their lawyers, who raised their intention
of submitting a demurrer to the court regarding the legality
of the proceedings.
At the commencement of the hearings, the
presiding judge asked the two defendants whether they had
been notified by their lawyers about the charges against
them. They both replied in the negative as they had not met
their lawyers until the day of the trial. It was agreed that
they would submit demurrers later in the month.
Nevertheless, 'to avoid wasting time', the
presiding judge asked the prosecutor, Maskel Rambolangi, to
read out the charges against Karma. This reportedly is in
violation of normal procedure, which requires the court to
hear the demurrer from the defendant, before determining
whether the trial can proceed.
Indonesia's National Human Rights
Commission Establishes West Papua Office
According to the Jakarta
11), on January 10, respected human rights attorney Abdul
Hakim Garuda Nusantara, head of Indonesia's National
Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), appointed seven
Komnas HAM representatives in West Papua. The
representatives, who will each serve a three-year term
(2005-2008), are Reverend Freddy Toam, Friets Ramandey,
Abina Wasanggai, Albert Rumbekwan, Sandra Mambrasar, Juhari
and Yance Waropen.
The long-awaited West Papua office of Komnas
HAM, which has been in the planning phase since 1999,
reportedly will be funded from the provincial and state
budgets. A 1999 law empowers the provincial office to
provide services to the public and settle human rights
problems previously handled at the central level.
In 1995, Komnas HAM shone the spotlight of
official attention on human rights abuses in West Papua for
the first time when it confirmed that the Indonesian
military (TNI) had committed clear and identifiable human
rights violations in and around New Orleans-based Freeport
McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc.'s mining operations there.
Abuses included indiscriminate killings, torture, and
inhuman or degrading treatment, unlawful arrest and
arbitrary detention, disappearance, excessive surveillance,
and destruction of property. The commission noted that these
violations ìare directly connected to [the Indonesian
army]Öacting as protection for the mining business of PT
Freeport Indonesia.î (For details, see Development
Aggression: Observations on Human Rights Conditions in the
PT Freeport Indonesia Contract of Work Areas With
Recommendations, available online at: www.rfkmemorial.org).