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Recently, Indonesian prosecutors demanded sentences of five to 17 years for seven high-profile West Papuan political prisoners detained in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan (Borneo). These activists were arrested during a wave of protest triggered by recorded incidents of racist police violence last year. Tens of thousands joined an uprising against racism and for self-determination for West Papua.


Ninth update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua

This article provides an overview of the trials related to Papua-wide anti-racism protests between late August and late September 2019 as well as the subsequent wave of criminalisation against human rights defenders and political activists. The International Coalition for Papua summarised earlier stages of the legal proceedings and detentions in previous articles (first update, second update, third update, fourth update, fifth update, sixth update, seventh update, eight update. The following text covers the developments throughout June 2020 concerning the riots.

The seven Papuan activists tried in Kalimantan were sentenced to ten and eleven months imprisonment. International human rights observers, as well as Papuan civil society members, raised serious concerns regarding the trial after the public prosecutor had sought sentences of up to 17 years imprisonment for the defendants. Meanwhile, the majority of trials concerning the anti-racism protests have been closed and the defendants were released. Several court cases against protesters who were during unrests in the towns of Oksibil, Wamena, Sorong and Waena continue.


Press Release - #PapuanLivesMatter: West Papua Network and United Evangelical Mission urge the Indonesian government to end racism against indigenous Papuans

(Wuppertal, 23rd of June 2020). In the wake of the anti-racism demonstrations in the USA after the death of George Floyd caused by police violence and the current worldwide attention to this issue, the West Papua Network (WPN) and the United Evangelical Mission (UEM) express their concern about the continuing racism against indigenous Papuans and draw attention to the importance of the #PapuanLivesMatter campaign. The West Papua Network and the UEM call on the Indonesian government to take effective measures against racism in West Papua and to promote and protect the human rights of Papuans.



TAPOL regrets Court sentencing of ‘Balikpapan Seven’ political prisoners

(London, 17 June 2020) TAPOL regrets the sentencing of seven West Papuan political prisoners today in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan province. The Seven were arrested in early September 2019 and accused of being the masterminds behind the ‘West Papua Uprising’, mass anti-racism protests in August and September last year. Prosecutors demanded that harsh prison sentences should be handed to the Seven, which has caused a rise in tensions in recent weeks in West Papua. However, judges took a different view and displayed more leniency:


#MakeWestPapuaSafe Campaign organizes webinar about Balikpapan 7 with Sarah Thompson

On 15 June 2020, the case of the seven anti-racism activists on trial for treason was discussed in a webinar organised by the #makewestpapuasafe. The panellists were Benny Giay (Moderator KINGMI Papua), Gustaf Kawer (lawyer for the Balikpapan 7 and director of PAHAM Papua), Usman Hamid (director and founder of Amnesty International Indonesia), Jacob Rumbiak (spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua), Sarah Thompson (Black Lives Matter organiser and West Papua solidarity activist), and Jason MacLeod (civil resistance lecturer).


Update on trial against ‘Balikpapan 7’ – Judges sentence Papuan activists to ten and eleven months imprisonment

The trial against the seven political detainees Fery Gombo, Alexander Gobay, Hengki Hilapok, Buchtar Tabuni, Irwanus Uropmabin, Stevanus Itlay and Agus Kossay (see intro image, source: Jubi) has reached an end. On 17 June 2020, judges at the Balikpapan District Court sentenced Buchtar Tabuni, Agus Kossay and Stevanus Itlay to 11 months imprisonment. Ferry Gombo, Alexander Gobay, Hengky Hilapok and Irwanus Uropmabin were sentenced to 10 months imprisonment. Papuan human rights lawyer, Gustaf Kawer, thanked all stakeholders for the support throughout the trial. The seven activists have one week to appeal against the verdict – Kawer stated that his clients are still considering this option.


Pusaka Press Release: Urging the State and Corporations to Protect and Respect Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Papua

The Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation has documented the situation in Papua from April 2020 to the present, June 2020, and has uncovered cases of violence, arrests, destruction of property, internal displacement, intimidation and death threats experienced by indigenous peoples and Environmental Human Rights Defenders, namely: the Moskona indigenous people in the Regency of Teluk Bintuni (April 2020), Aifat indigenous people in Maybrat Regency (April May 2020), Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Kampung Ikana, Kais Darat, South Sorong Regency (June 2020), and in Kali Kao, Jair District, Boven Digoel Regency (June 2020), Papua Province. Some cases involve recurring violence against Environmental Human Rights Defenders.


Corona prevention policies increase violence – Security force members leave three indigenous Papuans injured in Paniai

On 25 May 2020, police officers killed Justinus Dimara in Jayapura as they dispersed a group of Papuans who had violated contact restrictions and distance requirements, which the local government imposed for the prevention of COVID-19. Now, the enforcement of Corona prevention policies has resulted in a further case of security force violence against indigenous Papuans in the regency of Paniai. The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Papuan Tabernacle Church (JPIC Kingmi Papua) reported that joint security force members ill-treated 29-year old Sarah Yeimo and subsequently tortured Yosia Magai (24 years) and Yupen Magai (28 years) at a roadblock near the Uwibutu Hospital on 10 June 2020. All three victims sustained injuries and had to be hospitalised. The control post with a roadblock (see image below on the right) had been set up by the local government to prevent people that live outside of Paniai to enter the regency.


Update on trial against 23 defendants in Fakfak arrested during 1st December Commemorations and accused of treason and criminal conspiracy

Multiple trials against 23 indigenous Papuans are ongoing at the Fakfak District Court since 18 June 2020. The defendants have been accused of committing crimes against state security. They are tried under various indictments, among them Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on treason, Article 110 KUHP on criminal conspiracy, Article 160 KUHP on incitement and Emergency Law No. 12/1951 on the possession or use of stabbing, striking and slashing weapons (see table below). The 23 defendants are represented in court by the Manokwari Institute for Research Study and Development of Legal Aid (LP3BH Manokwari), the Kaki Abu Legal Aid Institute in Sorong (LBH Kakia ABU), ELSHAM Papua as well as two additional local law offices.


Police officers arrest four students during peaceful assembly in support of Balikpapan 7

On 15 June 2020, police officers arbitrarily arrested four students at the Jayapura University for Science and Technology (USTJ) during a peaceful open stage event in support of the seven political detainees in Balikpapan. One of the detainees, Alexander Gobay, is the incumbent USTJ student president – he was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment on 17 June 2020. The USTJ students had already set up a racism-protest post and the open stage on 13 June 2020 to make peaceful orations and express their aspirations for the release of the Balikpapan 7.


More Articles...

  1. Papuan Parliament, MRP and religious leaders criticise injustice and demand release of ‘Balikpapan 7’
  2. Series of attacks against human rights defenders advocating for human rights in West Papua
  3. Theo Hesegem's views on the #BlackLivesMatter #PapuanLivesMatter Campaign
  4. Statement by Papua's religious leaders on the trial against 7 Papuan defendants at the Balikpapan District Court
  5. Yones Douw talks about the #BlackLivesMatter Campaign in West Papua
  6. Update: Trial on internet blockage in West Papua – Administrative Court rules President and Minister acted unlawfully
  7. Eighth update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua
  8. Attorney General rejects the Paniai Case files again for further processing
  9. Papua Police Chief presses charges against KNPB member in Mimika – suspect injured during arrest
  10. Police officers disperse residents with water cannon in Jayapura - one person dead
  11. CC TV records police officers torturing suspect in Mimika Regency
  12. Allegations of enforced disappearance in Intan Jaya - Two indigenous Papuans reported missing
  13. Papuan student arrested for Facebook post – Police press charges
  14. Freeport operating with reduced workforce due to increase of COVID-19 cases
  15. Korindo palm oil plantation calls police to settle land dispute – One indigenous Papuan dies as a result of torture
  16. Update, The Jakarta Six: Cancellation of release
  17. Police investigator in Sorong Selatan prevents lawyers from meeting with detainees
  18. Update: Number of Covid-19 cases in Papua rise to 301
  19. Residents reject construction of a military base in Tambrauw
  20. Human Rights Update West Papua - 1st Quarter 2020
  21. Govt fails to respect freedom of expression in West Papua – Police arrest students and summon church leader
  22. Human Rights Watch Indonesia: New Arrests for Peaceful Political Expression
  23. New IPAC Report available: COVID-19 and Conflict in West Papua
  24. Trade Minister revokes timber licensing for wood export – Papuan Forest under threat
  25. TAPOL denounces sentences handed to Jakarta Six
  26. Seventh update on trials and detentions after anti-racism riots in West Papua
  27. Police operation in Maybrat Regency accompanied by arrests and torture
  28. Three policemen died due to clashes with military members
  29. Amnesty Indonesia: Urge the Government to Immediately Protect the Rights of Health Workers!
  30. Update on Corona Pandemic in West Papua – Number of infections rise to 137