The Jayapura District Court held a court session on 4 April 2023 to read the charges against two Papuan students, Mr Devio Tekege and Mr Ambros Fransiskus Elopere (see photo below; source: Jubi). Both defendants were arrested at the Jayapura University of Science and Technology (USTJ) campus on 10 November 2022. The prosecutor charged them with treason for participating in the peaceful assembly and raising the Morning Star flag, a symbol of cultural identity for indigenous Papuans, also used by the Papuan independence movement. The prosecutor alleged that their speeches and the free podium aimed to separate West Papua from Indonesia and establish it as a new state. The trial continued on 6 April 2023 after lawyers announced they would file an exception to the charges.
Previously, Mr Yoseph Ernesto Matuan, a student of the USTJ (see photo on top; source: Jubi), was tried under the same charges in relation to the incident. The trial against him was launched on 28 March 2023. Mr Matuan held a speech and carried the Morning Star flag as police forces entered the campus and dispersed the assembly with teargas and warning shots. The prosecutor claimed that Mr Matuan was involved in a conspiracy to commit treason. The trial was presided over by the same panel of judges as the trial against Devio Tekege and Ambros Fransiskus Elopere.
All students 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. Law enforcement institutions in Indonesia often use both articles to criminalise and prosecute political activists promoting the right to self-determination through peaceful means. The articles carry maximum penalties of up to twenty years.