Audryne Karma, daughter of Filep Karma, one of West Papua’s most prominent political prisoners, published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal…
While praising the democratic advances under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono throughout much of Indonesia, Ms. Karma observed that:
for West Papuans “the old regime dies hard. Indonesia has yet to realize the promise of democracy and human rights for all of its citizens,”
After ten years of failed “special autonomy” policies, Ms. Karma writes that West Papuans were “systematically persecuted” as they sought to call attention to special autonomy’s “broken promises.”
The piece by Ms. Karma, boldly and articulately explains that in West Papua, those members of the security forces who commit torture targeting innocent Papuan civilians receive the lightest of sentences (if prosecuted at all) while Papuans who engage in peaceful protest demanding their human rights are locked up for years.
She persuasively describes the case of her own father, Filep Karma, who is serving a 15 year sentence for his peaceful protest.
She describes how a notoriously biased judge sentenced her father to three times the sentence recommended by prosecutors and that his Christian faith was openly mocked in the courtroom. During his imprisonment he has suffered repeatedly at the hands of his jailers, denied urgent medical care and punished for his efforts to mediate a dispute within the prison where he is incarcerated.
Ms. Karma notes that her father is one of at least 130 political prisoners who suffer torture and other abuses within a penal system strongly criticized by UN and other international observers.
In a an affront to justice, Ms. Karma writes that in 2007, Indonesia’s Supreme Court struck down the sedition provisions of the Indonesian Criminal Code under which her father and many other political prisoners were prosecuted. None of the political prisoners convicted under these overturned provisions has been released.
Recalling President Obama’s November 2010 visit to Indonesia and his appeal that
“every child born in this country be treated equally, whether they come from Java or Aceh; Bali or Papua,”
Ms. Karma hopes that the international community would hold President Yudhoyono to this standard.
“The Indonesian government cannot be an exemplar of democracy, human rights and the rule of law while it persecutes those who peacefully insist that it live up to those very aspirations.”
Note: also see Pacific Scoop’s May 5, 2011, “Jailed Leader Filep Karma And The Fight For Papua’s Future.” a detailed and compelling analysis by renowned scholar Dr. Richard Chauvel of Victoria University in Australia.)
***This is from the West Papua Report series produced by the non-profit West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) drawing on media accounts, other NGO assessments, and analysis and reporting from sources within West Papua. This report is co-published with the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN).