East Timor - 16 people on trial for peacefully protesting in solidarity with West Papua

Sixteen protesters had to stand trial because they conducted a peaceful protest in solidarity with the people of West Papua in front of the Indonesian embassy in Dili, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly referred to as East Timor. The group of protesters, all members of the Maubere Peoples’ Front for West Papua (FRMWP), had participated in a seminar on the humanitarian crisis in West Papua on 3 September 2020. The peaceful demonstration on 4 September 2020 was a follow-up activity of the seminar. According to the media outlet ‘Suara Papua’, police officers dispersed the demonstration and arrested 16 out of 60 protesters.

16 Protesters Timur Leste Suara PapuaThe 16 activists were detained (see image on the right) and charged with Article 244 of East Timor's Penal Code, which regulates that the protesters must keep a safety distance of 100 meters to embassy buildings. The violation of Article 244 is punishable with a maximum sentence of 6 months house arrest.

The trial against the 16 activists was launched on 6 September 2020. After the first court hearing, all defendants were released from police custody (see intro image). On 11 September 2020, the district court in Dili found the 16 activists guilty. The judge ruled that each defendant must pay a fine of $ 45. Following the trial, the activists expressed their disagreement with the court decision. They are planning to appeal against the verdict within the next 15 days.