Deteriorating health of detained KNPB member and activist in Sorong

On 22 November 2023, talks took place between the Prosecutors Office, and the family and the Coalition of Civil Pro-Democracy Movements supporting Urbanus Kamat, Secretary-General of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) for the Maybrat region. Urbanus Kamat, who had been arrested in the Bamusbama District in June, was suffering from a deteriorating health condition while incarcerated in the city of Sorong, Papua Barat Daya Province. His right leg had become immobile, and he experienced severe cramps, leading to his transfer to Selebesolu Hospital.

Despite medical examinations revealing no specific illness, Kamat’s family and legal coalition sought traditional treatment and requested permission from the prosecutor’s office for him to receive medical care at home (house arrest). However, the prosecutor’s office insisted on following the proper procedure, requiring a formal request to the judge for off-site treatment. Due to the late hour, the coalition decided on 23 November to provide legal support and draft a letter to the judge requesting Kamat’s treatment outside the prison.

In the interim, Kamat was accompanied by the coalition and his family and remained temporarily in prison until the legal representatives could contact the judge the following day. The family and the Coalition of Civil Pro-Democracy Movements have learned from the tragic case of Abraham Matte, who passed away in the same prison in Sorong, emphasizing the need to prevent a similar situation.

Background information

The arrest and detention with charges of three KNPB activists, including Urbanus Kamat, occurred on 9 June 2023, in Bamusbama District, Tambrauw Regency, Papua Barat Daya Province. The Coalition of Civil Pro-Democracy Movements called for the immediate release of these activists and highlighted Indonesia’s democratic principles, emphasizing the right to freedom of association, assembly, and expression as stated in the country’s constitution. The arrests followed a KNPB event in which 17 activists were detained, and although 14 were subsequently released due to lack of evidence, Kamat and two others remained in custody.

Eko Baru, Coordinator of the Coalition, expressed concern about the conditions in which the detained activists were being held and the potential health risks they faced. The arrests were viewed as an attempt to stifle peaceful expression and activism. The coalition firmly asserted that KNPB was a peaceful civil organisation, and labelling it as criminal was unjust and rooted in strong racial biases. Welfin Kareth, Secretary of the Coalition, stated that KNPB had consistently advocated for peaceful and dignified methods of expressing the people’s voices.

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