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List of Known Political Prisoners in Indonesia

UPDATE May 4, 2020

Indonesian authorities have imprisoned four political prisoners in Ambon since July 2007, for their involvement in a peaceful protest dance by 28 people at the Ambon stadium.  The four were among a total of 68 men, including the dancers, who were arrested and sentenced to between 7 and 20 years in prison on treason charges. All have since been released except for the four, who each received 17-year prison terms: Jhon Markus; Romanus Batseran; Jordan Saiya; and Johannis Saija.

Human Rights Watch used a database provided by the London-based Tapol organization as well as the submission by the lawyers Jennifer Robinson and Veronica Koman to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to list these cases in eight cities in Indonesia:

  • Jakarta: The Central Jakarta court sentenced six activists on April 24, 2020, to up to nine months in prison. They were allegedly involved in a peaceful rally outside the State Palace on August 28, 2019, to protest racist attacks against Papuan students in Surabaya on August 17. They include Ambrosius Mulait, chairman of the Association of Papuan Central Highlands Students in Indonesia; Arina Elopere Gwijangge, a theology student; Charles Kossay, an activist; Dano Tabuni, an activist; and Suryanta Ginting, spokesperson for the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua. Ginting is the only non-Papuan Indonesian activist jailed on treason charges. The court also sentenced Isay Wenda, a Papuan student, to eight months in prison.
  • Wamena, Papua: Indonesian police arrested Jakub Skrzypski and Simon Magal in 2018 when Skrzypski, a Polish national, was in Papua. Magal and Skrzypski were sentenced respectively to four and seven years in prison for treason. Skrzypski is the first foreigner to be sentenced under article 106.
  • Ambon, Moluccas Islands: Five Moluccan political prisoners are jailed in Waiheru and Passo prisons in Ambon. On June 29, 2019, police arrested a couple, Izaak Siahaja, 80, and Pelpina Werinussa, 72, because they had the RMS flag displayed inside their home. Siahaja was convicted of treason and sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Werinussa and their three guests – Johan Noya, Basten Noya, and Markus Noya – were sentenced to five years in prison, also for treason.
  • Balikpapan, East Kalimantan: Police arrested seven Papuan activists separately in Jayapura, Papua, after anti-racism protests in Papua and West Papua provinces in August and September 2019. They are Buchtar Tabuni, chairman of the West Papua National Parliament, part of the Vanuatu-based United Liberation Movement for West Papua; Agus Kossay, chairman of the National Committee for West Papua, the largest youth organization in both provinces that advocates for a UN-sponsored referendum; Steven Itlay, coordinator of the National Committee for West Papua in Timika; and four campus student leaders – Alexander Gobay, Ferry Gombo, Hengki Hilapok, and Irwanus Uropmabin. Tabuni and Itlay are former political prisoners. On October 4, the police flew them to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan on security grounds. Their trial is slated to begin online soon.
  • Jayapura, Papua: Police arrested Assa Asso, a filmmaker of the Papuan Voices art community and a member of the National Committee for West Papua, on September 23, 2019, and charged him with treason. He had uploaded a video about the anti-racism protest on August 23 on his Facebook page. He is being held in Jayapura. His trial began on March 4, 2020.
  • Manokwari, West Papua: Police arrested Sayang Mandabayan, a former Sorong city council member, in Manokwari airport on September 3, 2019, for carrying 1,500 small Morning Star flags. Police charged her with treason. Her trial began on February 13, 2020. Police also arrested three Papuan students in Manokwari – Erik Aliknoe, Pende Mirin, and Yunus Aliknoe – on September 18, 2019, for organizing an anti-racism protest on September 3, at which Mandabayan was to supply the small flags. Their trial began in February 2020.
  • Sorong, West Papua: Police arrested four Papuan students – Rianto Ruruk, Yoseph Syufi, Manase Baho, and Etus Miwak Kareth – on September 18, 2019, after they took part in an anti-racism rally in Sorong with Morning Star stickers. Their trial began on March 5, 2020. In November, the police arrested 11 other Papuans, mostly farmers, activists, and a tailor, after they announced a commemoration of the 1961 declaration of West Papua independence. They included Silvester Nauw and his wife, Melfin Wefete. Each of the 11 possessed Morning Star T-shirts for the planned rally.
  • Fakfak, Papua: Police arrested a total of 23 Papuan men, mostly farmers, on December 1, 2019, when they were walking from their Warpa and Pikpik villages to Fakfak to celebrate the 1961 declaration of West Papua independence. They were charged with treason and are awaiting trial in Fakfak prison and the Fakfak police detention center.

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