Source: West Papua Media Alerts
(Jayapura): Hundreds of security forces are on the streets around Jaypura, West Papua, in a show of force as an Indonesian court found five Congress leaders guilty of Makar (treason), and sentenced the defendants each to three years in prison.
The five defendants, Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selfius Bobii, Dominikus Sorabut, and Agus Kraar, were leaders and organisers of the Third Papuan People’s Congress held on October 19 2011, which was brutally broken up by Indonesian security forces after Forkorus – the Chairman of the Papuan Tribal Council elected as President of the Federated Republic of West Papua – unilaterally reaffirmed West Papua’s independence from Indonesia.
Today’s hearing at the Jayapura Class 1A District Court, the 15th hearing in a trial described by international observers of “descending into farce”, closed after the panel of judges led by Jack Johan Oktavianus declared that the defendants had committed treason under Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code.
During the trial, several Indonesian Brimob paramilitary police officers who opened fire on the Congress gathering, admitted they had no proof that the accused had committed treason before they opened fire on unarmed civilians.
No member of the Indonesian security forces, who during the breakup of Congress were filmed committing acts of brutality and violence on unarmed civilians, were criminally charged and so far have not receive any sanction for the unprovoked attack.
On March 14, another defendant from the Third Papuan Peoples’, Gat Wenda, was also found guilty of makar charges, but was sentence to five months in jail, less time he has already served since his arrest.
Lawyers for the defendants, themselves under threat of prosecution and harassment by Indonesian security forces for their advocacy for the accused, have planned to appeal the decisions, saying “we think this decision is a disaster.”
In SMS messages sent from the legal team to West Papua Media, senior lawyer Olga Hamadi said “we think the judgement from the full bench is out of tune with what actually happened. We will appeal this to the High Court”.
Gustaf Kawer, another senior member of the legal team, also told West Papua Media via SMS that “the judges considered ambiguous and inconsistent testimony. (Yet) there is evidence of free expression and democracy that was ruled,” Kawar said, referring to the democratic rights and obligations adhered to by the Congress leaders.
A massive show of military hardware has caused major fear on the streets of Jayapura, with most poeple staying away from demonstrations for fear of an imminent military crackdown. 600 Heavily armed Brimob riot police and 300 Indonesian army soldiers are surrounding the streets around the court, backed up by several water cannon, 13 Barracuda armoured vehicles, and seven Army Panzers (assault vehicles).
Security forces today have, according to local civil resistance sources, used this show of force to actively prevent supporters of the accused to attend court.
The atmosphere has been described as highly tense with Papuan supporters of the convicted men outraged, but terrified, according to SMS messages from sources on the ground.
This is a developing situation – please stay tuned.