No Political Prisoners in Papua

Arientha Primanita | December 12, 2011

Coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs Djoko Suyanto on Monday denied that there are political prisoners detained in Papua as alleged by human rights organizations.

“No political prisoners in Papua,” Djoko said. “I told Amnesty International that there are only criminals. In a seminar or demonstration, no one was detained unless there was also violence and destruction at the event.”

Djoko said he met Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director Sam Zarifi last week. He said it was up to Amnesty International to believe the government’s statement, but claimed that the government has done its best for the advancement of Papua.

At least 90 people are in prison in Papua and Maluku for peaceful pro-independence activities, including Filep Karma, a Papuan independence leader currently serving a 15-year sentence in Abepura, Papua. Filep’s case has received special attention by the human rights group.

On Dec. 1, 2004, Filep organized a peaceful demonstration in Abepura in which the banned Morning Star flag was raised. Filep was subsequently sentenced in May 2005 for treason and stoking unrest.

Washington-based Freedom Now said Filep, 51, would become one of 13 political prisoners around the world for whom it was currently campaigning, joining the likes of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. The organization is also known for having worked for the release of now-free Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Djoko said the Indonesian government was accused of violating human rights with legal enforcers abusing and killing people. He said that the government, on the contrary, should not use violence and that local people abuse legal enforcers.

“If military or police officers violate the law, they will be taken to military trial,” he said. “And if ordinary people breach [the law] and police hunt them, it is for the sake of legal enforcement and not a human rights violation.”

Djoko said he explained in the meeting the government’s plan for Papua’s development.

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