MAC: Mines and Communities

Urgent Alert- Civil Rights Of Abepura 16 March 2006 Suspects Threatened

Published by MAC on 2006-06-12
Source: Office of Jusice and Peace ()

URGENT ALERT - CIVIL RIGHTS OF ABEPURA 16 MARCH 2006 SUSPECTS THREATENED

Office of Jusice and Peace, Abepura, West Papua

12th June 2006


We wish to draw your attention to the situation of Papuans who are being held as suspects because of their involvement in a demonstration on 15-16 March 2006 outside Cendrawasih University campus which called for the closure of Freeport Indonesia. We wish to focus in particular on the detainees being held at POLDA (Jayapura Regional Police) and the trial of the suspects now underway at Jayapura district court. We should explain also that the sixteen detainees whose cases are now being heard at the Jayapura district court were moved from the POLDA detention centre where they had been held for three months to the Abepura Prison on 6 June 2006, Jayapura.

Altogether 23 people were arrested, interrogated and detained by Papua POLDA in connection with the 16 March Abepura 2006 case. Most are students from various colleges in Jayapura. Since 17 May 2006, sixteen have been on trial at Jayapura district court while the other six are still being held at POLDA and are being interrogated by the police.

I. Situation of Detainees in POLDA Papua

On 30 May 2006, the Justice and Peace Secretariat (SKP) of the Jayapura Diocese, Justice & Peace of the GKI Synod in Papua and the Justice and Peace Bureau of Indonesia the GKII (Kemah Injili Church in Papua) visited the detainees in POLDA Papua detention centre. Although members of POLDA kept a close watch all the time, we were able to hold conversations in private with Selvius Bobii, Eko Berotabui (son of the Chair of the GKI Synod in Papua) as well as another prisoner named Nelson Rumbiak regarding their conditions, including food and drink, clothing, sleeping arrangements, security, legal counsel and whether they were able to receive visits from their parents. We took them supplies of food and drink, bread and oranges wrapped in a black plastic bag which was examined on a number of occasions by two young police officers who were on guard in the visitors' area, the place where the detainees were allowed to meet their visitors which is about 3x3 metres in size. We were able to convince the guards that our bags only contained food and nothing else. Each group of visitors was allowed to meet only two detainees. Apart from security considerations this was because the visiting area is very small indeed.

There were wounds on the pale faces of the detainees around their temples and eyebrows which they said they had sustained during a number of police interrogation sessions which went on for many days.

The conditions of the detainees were as follows, according to explanations from the three detainees:

First: Selvius and the two other detainees said they had no complaints about the food. "We would like better food but we realise that we are detainees in Indonesia, so it's not a problem. Sometimes we get bored with the food but we eat it anyway." They also said, and the police guards confirmed, that they are given food only twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Because of the lack of cells at POLDA, there are several detainees in each cell. They can only take a bath and wash their clothes once a day at five pm.

Second: Selvius said: "We were heavily tortured during the first few months as they tried to get information about the network and about who was behind the PEPERA [abbreviation in Indonesian for Act of Free Choice] Group. The head of Criminal Investigation, Paulus Waterpauw, once threatened to shoot me by aiming his gun at my mouth. 'I was put under pressure and threatened to disclose persons who were part of a network with PEPERA or were partners with PEPERA in the struggle. I said there was no such thing. So I was placed in solitary confinement and not allowed to meet anyone for a month.'

Third: With regard to the legal counsel appointed by POLDA Papua to accompany the three men in court, they said: "We don't know these lawyers because from the day we were arrested until 30 May 2006, they have never visited us in detention to advise us on how to respond to the charges by the prosecutor or how to behave in court. We are completely in the dark when we are in court. I myself was confused on the first day in court. We regret the fact that these lawyers have never come to see us or done anything in the performance of their duties. We would have hoped that the lawyers would at the very least come and visit us and explain the procedure to us and how to behave the court. When we were being interrogated, we were not accompanied by a lawyer. As a result, some of the detainees felt afraid and simply admitted that they were involved in the events on 16 March 2006 whereas in fact they were not."

Selvius Bobii also spoke about another detainee named Jefri Pawika who had been ill for a long time as a result of being maltreated while at POLDA, yet nothing was done either by POLDA, the lawyers or the prosecutor to make arrangements for him to be properly treated. He has shown signs of a mental disorder and it is feared that he could go mad if nothing is done quickly to treat his medical condition. 'Although he is ill, we were forced to bring him to the hearing so that the judge, the prosecutor and the general public could see his condition.' According to a report about the hearing on 17 May 2006, Jefri Pakawi fainted in court because he had an empty stomach and he had not been given anything to eat since the previous evening.

Selvius and Nelson also confirmed that they had been maltreated by the police on Wednesday 24 May 2006 in the detention centre at the Jayapura court for almost two hours before the hearing started. They were maltreated in order to get them to confess in court that they were involved in the murder of four members of the police force and a member of the air force during the demonstration on 16 March 2006.

When we asked whether they had been visited by their parents, the three detainees said that most of the parents were too afraid and didn't dare to come to the POLDA detention centre.

II. The hearing of the sixteen accused at the Jayapura District Court

Five hearings in the trial of the sixteen accused have been held so far before a panel of judges chaired by Morris Ginting SH, sitting with A Lakoni SH and Denny D. Sumardi SH. The charges are briefly as follows:

1. Selvius Bobii is charged with inciting others to use violence (Article 160 of the Criminal Code).
2. Nelson Rumbiak is charged with aggravated theft (Article 365) for stealing two canisters that had been used by Brimob for tear gas to break up the action before the conflict occurred, which had been found by the accused at the site of the incident.
3. Othen Dapyal , Elkana Lokobal, Musa Asso, Moses Lobokal, Mon Jefri Obaja Pawika and Mathias Mihel Dimara are charged with using violence against other persons (Article 170).
4. Ferdinando Pakage and Luis Gedi are charged jointly with resisting members of the security forces in the performance of their duties, resulting in loss of life of a security force member (Article 212 relating to 214, para 2).
5. Marcus Kayame, Patrisius Aronggear, Thomas Ukago, Perius Waker, Elyas Tameka and Bensiur Mirin jointly used violence to resist members of the security forces in the performance of their duties (Articles 218 and 214, para 1).

The trial of the sixteen is likely to end in July 2006, with a final verdict being adopted by the court.

While the hearings were in progress, the following important incidents occurred:

1. During the second hearing on 24 May 2006 at which the charges of the prosecutor were read out, the accused were maltreated by members of the police force for two hours before the hearing began at the POLDA detention centre, according to what they later told us. They were kicked with army boots, struck on the head and body with rifle butts and rubber truncheons. This was done in an attempt to force the accused to confess that they had indeed committed the offences for which they were being accused by the prosecutor. Because some of the accused rejected the charges in court, they were maltreated in the same way after leaving the courtroom as they were loaded onto a police truck to return them to the Jayapura POLDA detention centre.

2. During the questioning of witnesses, most of whom were members of the police still on active service at police resort command (MALPOLPESTA) Jayapura, the judges frequently put questions and gave the answers, forcing the witnesses to make statements detrimental to the accused, even though they had said that they did not know the accused and knew nothing about actions for which the accused were being charged. For example, when a witness said he did not know the accused, Judge Lakoni reprimanded him, saying: 'You are a member of the security forces, so you should speak clearly, or do you want to be punished? You must be loyal to your oath and not bring shame on you unit.' At another hearing, a judge said the following: 'Another time when there is a demo, you should carry sharp weapons so that, should the situation become chaotic and you find yourself under pressure, you can shoot the demonstrators on the spot, and if anyone dies, that won't be a violation of human rights.' Such statements were greeted with cheers by the police attending the hearing, both in the courtroom and outside.

3. Members of the security forces frequently used terror against the accused and their lawyers when they submitted complaints or disavowals of the charges made by the prosecution and statements made by witnesses by banging the courtroom door, vilifying them with abusive language or throwing stones at them outside the courtroom during the meal recess.

4. The judges frequently cut short questions put to witnesses by lawyers when they were trying to get clear statements or failed to give them the opportunity to ask questions. For instance, when a witness was hesitating about admitting that he knew the accused, he was forced to say he did under pressure from the judge. And when a lawyer wanted to put the same question as the judge had asked in order to get a clear answer from the witness, the judge prevented the lawyer from proceeding, saying that it was not necessary to ask the same question as had been asked by the judge.

5.Although the hearings were open to the public, members of the public were afraid to attend because everyone going to the hearings was asked by policemen on guard at the entrance to show their identity cards, the details of which were recorded by the police.

6. While the hearings were in progress, the courtyard outside the courthouse was filled with members of the Jayapura police force (Polresta) and members of the Papua POLDA Brimob, some of whom were fully armed. There were also members in mufti who were known to be intelligence agents from the police as well as from the army. The entrance to the courthouse was always protected by two rows of barbed wire.

7. At three of the hearings, the police stationed two panzers, one water cannon and five police trucks in a state of readiness outside the courthouse.

8. It should be pointed out that the accused, all of whom were native Papuans, experienced severe mental terror during the hearings. The judges on the panel, the majority of the prosecutors and most of the police guarding the courthouse were non-Papuans. Nor did the accused have Papuan lawyers. Based on the experience of similar cases in Papua, it is clear that the non-Papuan law enforcement officers have no understanding of the feelings, the life style and habits of the accused, with the result that it was very difficult for them to understand the decisions taken by the court.

Bearing in mind the above facts, our conclusions as follows:

The judges failed to understand the basic principle of 'innocent until proved guilty' because of the way they posed questions putting pressures on the witnesses and forcing the accused to confess to having perpetrated the criminal acts of which they were charged, despite the fact that most of the witnesses did not know the accused and did not understand what role they had played at the place where the action occurred.

All the hearings held so far give the impression that the judges and prosecutors have not upheld the basic principle of fair, honest, just and non-discriminative trials. The accused have been treated as if they were guilty of the crimes before the process of hearing testimony in court had been completed. Such a situation could easily result in the judges passing verdicts against the accused for actions even though they had not perpetrated the crimes of which they were accused, or passing verdicts far harsher than the facts of the case would warrant.

The fact that the hearings were always heavily guarded by uniformed and fully-armed security forces created an atmosphere of terror and fear for the accused in giving true evidence to the court and can also undermine the independence of the judges and prosecutors in handling the case fairly and properly.

In view of all the above, we call upon everyone to send letters to the police authorities and to the court urging them to handle the case in the following way:

To uphold the law, basic human rights, truth and justice at all stages while handling the 16 March 2006 case, during police interrogations as well as at the court hearings. Not to treat the legal process as if it were an act of vengeance for the members of police force who died in the performance of their duties on 16 March 2006 but as an effort to ascertain the truth behind the conflict that occurred during the course of the demonstration. It should be borne in mind that things were thrown by demonstrators after forceful efforts had been taken by the security forces to break up the demonstration during which tear gas had been used and shots had been fired. The laws and regulations in force in the Republic of Indonesia should not be used to criminalise movements by civil society to criticise the development models being used by the government which fail to answer the basic needs of the Papuan people and worsen the human rights situation in the Land of Papua.

Please write to the following:

Panel of Judges for the 16 March 2006 case at Jayapura District Court,
(Morris Ginting SH, A Lakoni SH, and Denny D Sumardi SH)
Jl Raya Abepura, Kode Pos 223, Abepura, Jayapura Papua
Phone: +62 967 581157
Fax: +62 967 581014

Prosecutor for the 16 March 2006 Case
Jayapura Attorney-General's Office, Jayapura,
Jl Dr Sam Ratulangi No 45, Jayapura 99225 Papua
Phone: +62 967 533328
Fax: +62 967 532640

Papua Police (POLDA)
Jl Sam Ratulangi No 8, Jayapura 99225 Papua,
Phone +62 967 533861
Fax: +62 967 533936
Or +62 967 531717

Many thanks for your attention and support. May PEACE and JUSTICE result from these efforts.

Jayapura 12 June 2006

Br Budi Hermawan ofm
Director, Peace and Justice Secretariat, Jayapura Diocese
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