“The arrest of Buchtar Tabuni was carried out as an effort to police the peace movement and to scapegoat the KNPB in order to avoid allegations of police inability to uncover the perpetrators of [recent] violence in Papua.”
–KNPB Statement on arrest of Buchtar Tabuni
“Officials should stop using the criminal law for political purposes. Now is the time for Yudhoyono to live up to his words and show Papuans he is serious about promoting tolerance of different political views.”
–Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director
West Papuan human rights activist and leader of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Buchtar Tabuni, has been sentenced to 8 months in prison on charges of vandalism that supposedly occurred during his last sham imprisonment in 2010.
Buchtar Tabuni was arrested on the 8th of June 2012 for organizing a demonstration to press for investigations into a number of fatal shooting incidents which were believed to have been perpetrated by Indonesian police and military forces. The demonstration was met by heavily armed Indonesian security forces who killed several demonstrators and arrested many more. During the subsequent trial, in which all of the prosecution’s witnesses failed to show up, the prosecution focused on alleged charges of vandalism while he was a prisoner in 2010.
Buchtar had been arrested in December of 2008 after organizing a similar demonstration, that time, supporting the launch of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in the UK Parliament.
He was tried on charges of treason and sentenced. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience, “imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing his views”. Human Rights Watch also lobbied for his release. He was eventually released in August of 2011, his third year in prison.