Human Rights News

News on the human rights and conflict situation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Eight Papuan activists found guilty of treason and sentenced to ten months for raising Morning Star Flag

Eight Papuan activists: Malvin Yobe, Devio Tekege, Ambros Elopere, Maksi You, Paul Sode Hilapok, Luis Sitok, Ernesto Matuan, and Melvin Waine were arrested for raising the Morning Star flag in front of the sports hall (GOR) in Jayapura on 1 December 2021. The police charged the activists with Articles 106 KUHP on treason and Article 110 KUHP on criminal conspiracy against the state. Allegedly the police is unnecessarily prolonging the detention because the evidence against the eight activists is not sufficient to submit the case to the public prosecutor. On 30 January 2022, the police extended the period of detention for another 30 days. Prior to the arrest, Melvin Yobe was undergoing a pulmonary treatment program, while Sode Hilapok was suffering from hemorrhoids. Their health condition of Mr Malvin Yobe and Mr Paul Sode reportedly deteriorated in late January 2022. Mr Hilapok was once permitted to see a doctor while Mr Yobe has not yet received any medical treatment. The trial started at the Jayapura District Court in April 2022 but the first court hearing was adjourned. The trial has finally started on 17 May 2022.
On 29 August 2022, judges at the Jayapura District Court found Mr Melvin Yobe, 29, Mr Melvin Fernando Waine, 25, Mr Zode Hilapok, 27, Mr Devion Tekege, 23, Mr Yosep Ernesto Matuan, 19, Mr Maksimus Simon Petrus You, 18, Mr Lius Kitok Uropmabin, 21, and Mr Ambrosius Fransiskus Elopere, 21, guilty of treason as regulated under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) (see photo on top, source: Jubi). Previously, the public prosecutor demanded a sentence of one year while the lawyers had pleaded for acquittal for the defendants.

Two indigenous women from Sihaporas Lamtoras injured due to joint forces intervention in customary land dispute in North Sumatra

On August 22, 2022, hundreds of members of the Police from the Simalungun Police and members of the TNI from Kodim 0207 Simalungun carried out repressive actions against the Sihaporas indigenous community in Pematang Sidamanik district, Simalungun Regency, North Sumatra Province. The indigenous people of Sihaporas Lamtoras were protesting the business activities of PT Toba Pulp Lestari (PT TPL) in their ancestral territory and aimed to stop them until the land dispute is settled. The brutality of the joint security forces in Simalungun resulted in a woman being injured by a rubber bullet.

Police disperse protest in tourist town Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara Province – many protesters arrested

On 1 August 2022, the police repressively dispersed a peaceful demonstration by mostly members of the Tourism Care Community Forum (Formapp) in Labuan Bajo against the government’s tourism management policies for Komodo National Park (KNP). For Formapp, the policies are unilateral and detrimental to residents, and the main issue is the increased entrance fees for the KNP. Labuan Bajo is a gateway town to the KNP, it is located in Komodo, West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province.

Conflict between palm oil company PT FPIL and community of Sumber Jaya Village in Jambi Province leads to the criminalisation of small farmers

On August 4, 2022, hundreds of peasants from Sumber Jaya Village, Kumpeh Ulu District, Muaro Jambi Regency demonstrated in front of the ATR/BPN office. The peasants voiced their rights regarding the 322 hectares of land currently claimed by the palm oil company PT Fajar Pematang Indah Lestari (PT FPIL) and protest the criminalisation of peasants in Sumber Jaya Village.
PT FPIL accuses peasants of starting to occupy land legally included in the company’s Cultivation Rights Title (HGU) area and stealing their palm fruit in that area. Meanwhile, peasants feel they are entitled to the land because it was always their land, passed down for generations until a plantation company named PT Purnama Tausar Putra sized it in 1998 before being taken over by PT FPIL in 2015.

What’s wrong with the Indonesian justice system? Trials in Maybrat provide an insight

A case of torture and violation of the right to fair trial in the Maybrat Regency provides an insight into the justice system. The seven indigenous Papuans were arrested and prosecuted for their alleged involvement in the attack on a military post in Kisor Village on 2 September 2021. The majority of the defendants were internally displaced shortly after the attack. Four were allegedly minors, but only one of them was tried under the juvenile justice system. Fourteen-year-old Lukas Ky was found guilty of murder and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Soldiers found guilty of killing two Papuans in Timika and dismissed from military service

Human rights defenders and media outlets reported the killing of two Papuan young men by members of the Indonesian military on 13 April 2020. According to relatives, Eden Armando Bebari and Ronny Wandik went at 8am to a river at Mile 34 inside the Freeport concession area to catch fish. In the evening, relatives looked for Eden and Ronny because they had not returned to their homes. Their relatives only found the motorcycles at Mile 34. Around 11.30 pm, rumors spread in the town of Timika that soldiers of the military mobile border security unit Gab YR 712 and YR 900 had shot dead two members of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN PB). The following day, the relatives were informed that the bodies of Eden and Ronny had been brought to the public hospital in Mimika.
More than two years later judges at the III-17 Military Court in Manado have found Lieutenant Gabriel Bowie Wijaya and Private Sugi Harnoto guilty of killing two Papuans in Timika.

Police officers kill Papuan man in Paniai Regency – Relatives demand an independent investigation

Police officers dispersed civil unrest in the town of Enarotali, Panaiai Regency, using tear gas and live ammunition on 5 July 2022. The police justified the forceful intervention by claiming that protesters were damaging buildings at the Paniai Regent’s Office. A Papuan man named Donatus Nawipa was killed during the crowd control operation.

Papua Barat Province: Military member kills minor during a wedding ceremony in Prafi District

On 4 June 2022, a military member shot dead 16-year-old civilian, Rafael Ivan Balaweling in the Prafi District of Manokwari Regency, Papua Barat Province. The shooting occurred during a wedding ceremony in the Aimasi village. According to the military spokesperson, General Tatang Subarna, the shooting was triggered by an argument between Staff Sergeant AFTJ and Rafael Ivan Balaweling.

Attack on Papuan human rights organisation – Perpetrators set a motorcycle on fire

The Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua) was subjected to an attack in the early morning of 9 May 2022. A motorcycle was set on fire inside the garage of the LBH Office in Jayapura City. LBH Papua is part of a coalition of human rights organisations in West Papua and provides legal and non-legal support to political activists and other victims of human rights violations.

Hydropower plant in Poso causes flooding of farmland – Peasants go on hunger strike

Farmers around lake Poso in Sulawesi Tengah province, Indonesia, have gone on hunger strike to protest against the loss of their farming land due to the construction of an hydro-power plant. Four protesters cast their feet in cement and announced they would go on hunger strike until the provincial government had come up with a sustainable solution for the ongoing land conflict.