London , 2/4 ( Jubi ) – “I spent six years in prison for calling for resistance against injustice in Burma. Now I stand here to give solidarity to the comrades in Papua who are experiencing the same thing,” said former Burmese political prisoners , Aung Ko.
Hundreds of protestors organized by TAPOL (Political Prisoners), Survival International and Amnesty International UK held a peaceful rally outside the Indonesian embassy in London on Wednesday to demand Indonesia release political prisoners in Papua and political parties and Indonesian presidential candidates to support the fulfillment of Papuans’ democratic rights.
A similar demonstration was also held in Scotland , the Netherlands , Australia , New Zealand and Papua .
In Jayapura , about 10:00 am ( local time) , police fired warning shots to disperse peaceful protestors demanding an immediate release of Papuan political prisoners. Police were heard calling the protestors “monkeys” and arrested two people people. The two protestors were allegedly mistreated and denied legal counsel while in detention at the Jayapura police station.
In London at 13:00 pm (local time ) demonstrators represented 76 political prisoners who are currently behind bars in Papua . They were symbolically handcuffed and had their mouths covered to demonstrate restrictions on freedom of expression in Papua. Despite mounting international concerns about the political situation and human rights in Indonesia, political parties taking part in the April 9 elections still lack plans on how to resolve the conflict in Papua. Some demonstrators challenged presidential candidates to explain their programs on Papua .
Some protesters held up a signs that read: “Jokowi , foreign journalists should be allowed to enter Papua”. Another said: “Bakrie, will you release Papuan political prisoners?”
“In a letter to the Indonesian ambassador in London , HE Teuku Mohammad Hamzah Thayeb , delivered today, the organizers of the demonstration , TAPOL stated that there are 537 Papuan political prisoners in 2013. It’s twice as many as in 2012. Cases of prisoners subjected to mistreatment including torture are three times as high as the level in 2012, and cases of denial of access to lawyers or unfair courts have doubled from 2012, ” Paul Barber, TAPOL coordinator, told Jubi from London on Wednesday night ( 2/3).
The lack of democratic space in Papua means that the election is almost irrelevant to many people of Papua, he said.
Dominic Surabut, a Papuan political prisoner, sent a message from Abepura prison to all demonstrators. He said: “Freedom and democracy can not be killed and imprisoned , because the spirit is absolute and no one or no country can eliminate it. To the human rights workers and those who pro-democracy activists around the world, we cannot stay silent. We must continue to clench our hands and souls together to save and put democracy in place”.
Surabut was arrested on October 19, 2011 and is currently serving a sentence of three years in prison for his participation in a peaceful political meeting in Jayapura .
According to a report published by Papuan Behind Bars , political prisoners in Papua are often tortured to extract confessions. Many of them were beaten and subjected to cruel and degrading acts like being forced to fight each other or not given proper food or medicines. Restrictions on international organizations and foreign media working in West Papua means that many violations occur in secret , and independent reporting is almost impossible . This is a serious problem in the region known to host one of the highest concentrations of security forces in the world, the report said.
“If Indonesia does not have anything to hide in Papua , why they do not allow journalists and international organizations come to Papua ? Seventy- six political prisoners in Papua can not be hidden from the world . ” Paul Barber said .
International organizations and UN mechanisms are more and more asking on restriction of the right to freedom of expression in Papua. And this restriction is unacceptable. In November 2012 , the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion that the detention of Filep Karma , as long as 15 years in prison for raising the Papuan Morning Star flag is a violation of international law .
In May 2012 , at a session of the Universal Periodic Report of Human Rights ( Universal Periodic Review ) on Indonesia in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva , the Indonesian government accepted the recommendation to invite the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression , Frank La Rue . The visit was planned for early 2013 but was canceled unilaterally by the Indonesian government. In May 2013 , the Chairman of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Navi Pillay expressed concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression in Papua.
TAPOL called on the Indonesian government to drop criminal charges against Papuan political activists and meet the international standards regarding the treatment of prisoners. ( Jubi / EC / Victor Mambor / Tina)