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

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.

Various criminal procedure violations accompanied the trial. Mr Maksimus Simon Petrus You was reportedly tortured during detention at the A1 Abepura Detention Centre in Jayapura on 29 July 2022. According to the information received, a guard came to his cell and beat up Mr You. The guard was reportedly intoxicated with alcohol. The political detainee sustained a swelling of the right eye temple and a cut on the lower lip (see photo below). According to the media outlet Jubi, the security guard responsible for the beating was he was removed from duty as a guard but was not legally processed for the torture.

Bruises on Mr Maksimus Simon Petrus You’s face due to the torture he experienced during detention at the Abepura Detention Centre, Jayapura. (source: indpendent HRDs)

In February 2022, Mr Emanuel Gobay, the director of the Papuan Legal Aid Institute (LBH Papua), had already expressed concerns about the deteriorating health condition of Mr Malvin Yobe and Mr Paul Sode Hilapok during detention at the Papua Regional Police (Polda Papua) headquarters. Thereupon, Mr Hilapok was once permitted to see a doctor after experiencing a haemorrhoid infection while Mr Yobe continued to be prevented from receiving medical treatment.

Case Background

The eight activists raised a flag with the Morning Star – a symbol of cultural identity for indigenous West Papuans – in front of the Jayapura sports hall (GOR Cenderawasih) on 1 December 2021. They unwrapped a banner, demanding self-determination, a visit by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to West Papua, and the stop of militarism in West Papua. They have been accused of treason as regulated under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) and conspiracy against the state as stipulated in Article 110 KUHP. The articles carry maximum penalties of up to twenty years.

Case information: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/case/papuan-legal-aid-institute-concerned-about-health-condition-of-political-detainees-in-jayapura/ and https://humanrightsmonitor.org/news/trial-against-8-papuan-activists-accused-of-treason-launched-in-jayapura/