From Human Rights Watch
(Jakarta) – Indonesian authorities should release and drop treason charges against three Papuan activists for peaceful advocacy in the Papua mining town of Timika, Human Rights Watch said today. The Indonesian government is currently imprisoning at least nine people from Papua and the Moluccan Islands for exercising their rights to freedom of expression.
Police in Timika arrested Yanto Awerkion, Sem Asso, and Edo Dogopia of the West Papua National Committee (Komite Nasional Papua Barat, KNPB), a student association, on December 31, 2018 when they were organizing a prayer gathering to commemorate the group’s fifth anniversary. Papuan human rights groups reported that the police arrested and beat nine KNPB members. On January 7, charges were only brought against the three for treason (makar) under articles 106 and 110 of the Criminal Code. Article 106 carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. They are currently being held in Papua’s capital, Jayapura.
“New police arrests of peaceful activists make a mockery of Indonesian government claims that it’s releasing the country’s political prisoners,” said Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher. “The baseless charges against the three Papuan activists should be dropped and they should be released immediately.”
The KNPB, perhaps the largest indigenous youth organization in Papua and West Papua provinces, advocates for independence of their homeland through a United Nations-sponsored referendum. In 2017, Awerkion organized a petition calling on the UN to organize a referendum in Papua. Awerkion said that the petition was signed by over 1.8 million Papuans. The Indonesian authorities alleged the petition to be a hoax and charged Awerkion with a “treasonous petition.” In March 2018, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison, but was released late that month for time already served.
Read full article from HRW.