Three Papuan men have decided their future. On Sunday, October 6, 2013, they jumped into the Australian Consulate in Bali as APEC world leaders gather.
West Papuan Activists Jumped Into the Australian Consulate in Bali
West Papuans want APEC world leaders to help release political prisoners and lift restrictions
BALI, 6 October 2013 -- Three West Papuan activists took refuge in the Australian consulate in Balion Sunday. They pleaded for their own safety and asked Australia not to expel them. They did not ask for independence but for international journalists to be allowed to report on the Papuan provinces without restrictions. They also called for the release of political prisoners from Indonesian prisons, the Alliance of Papuan Students said.
Rofinus Yanggam, Markus Jerewon, and Yuvensius Goo climbed the consulate wall and took refuge in the Australian consulate Sunday morning. In their letter addressed to the Australian people, they asked Prime Minister Tony Abbott to push the Indonesian government to release at least 55 political prisoners jailed in several prisons in Papua, especially political prisoner Filep Karma, jailed for 15 years in Abepura prison.
“Those prisoners committed no crime. They are explicitly committed to non-violence. The Indonesian government arrested and jailed them for discussing their political and human rights beliefs,” says their letter.
“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister Abbott, U.S. State Secretary John Kerry and other world leaders in the APEC summit should call on the Indonesian government to release political prisoners in West Papua,” said Rinto Kogoya, the coordinator of the Alliance of Papuan Students.
The Alliance of Papuan Students is an organization of West Papuan students studying in Java and Bali. The three activists left a message, a copy of the two-page letter and asked the group to publish their letter. They fear for their lives if they are expelled by Australia.
Yanggam and Jerewon are originally from Boven Digul regency in West Papua. Jerewon is now doing internship in Merauke in southern West Papua. Goo is a student of English literature at Cenderawasih University in Jayapura, the capital of Papua.
The Australian consulate is located on Jalan Tantular in Renon business district, Denpasar. Indonesia cannot enter the premises unless requested to by Australia.
According to Papuans Behind Bars, Indonesia jails at least 55 prisoners in West Papua, including the Jayapura Five: August Kraar, a civil servant; Dominikus Sorabut, a filmmaker; Edison Waromi, a former political prisoner; Forkorus Yaboisembut, the chairman of the Papuan customary council; and Selpius Bobii, a social media activist.
In November 2011, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in favor of Filep Karma, stating that Karma did not have fair trial in Indonesia and referred to his detention as “arbitrary” under international human rights law. It calls on the Indonesian government to release Karma. The Indonesian government refuses to release him unless he apologizes.
Indonesia began to rule then New Guinea after the U.S.-sponsored New York Agreement in 1962. The Indonesian military immediately restricts access to West Papua for foreign journalists, diplomats and observers, who should apply for a special travel permit to visit West Papua. The restriction is still in place today.
In his message, Rofinus Yanggam wrote that he’s happy to see Bali, seeing tourists walking the streets and enjoying the beaches. He also visited the Bali bombing memorial, honoring and remembering all 202 victims killed in the terrorist attack.
“I want to see West Papuans to be treated like Balinese. I don’t want to see West Papua always kept closed from international visitors,” Yanggam wrote.