A panel of central Jakarta district court judges found six activists guilty of treason for detention a protest in favor of Papuan independence in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta last August.
The bench pronounced prison terms for activists – the spokesperson for the Indonesian Popular Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) Surya Anta and students Charles Kossay, Deno Tabuni, Isay Wenda, Ambrosius Mulait and Arina Elopere – during a virtual verdict hearing Friday afternoon.
All activists were sentenced to nine months in prison, with the exception of Isayah, who was sentenced to eight months in prison.
The judges declared during the session that all the defendants had violated article 110 compared to article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) for conspiracy to promote secession.
“All the accused are found guilty of a collective act of treason,” said President Justice Agustinus Setyo Wahyu at the trial.
The sentence is lower than that of one year and five months in prison required by prosecutors.
Arina was found guilty of waving the banned flag of Bintang Kejora (Morning Star), which symbolizes the Papuan independence movement. She also danced and sang a song with the words: “We are not red and white [the colors of the Indonesian flag]», During the demonstration on August 28th.
The bench also found Dano guilty of treason in the form of a speech at the same demonstration, where he demanded that the government immediately hold a Papuan independence referendum.
Arina and Dano will only serve one month in prison when the bench has decided to reduce their sentence since they have served a period of detention during the investigation, which started in September of last year.
The remaining activists were found guilty of attending the demonstration and expressing their opinion on the demand for the Papuan independence referendum.
Counsel for the accused, Oky Wiratama, said that she was disappointed with the verdicts and challenged the process.
“[The verdict stated that] acts of treason have advantages and disadvantages in addition to containing political substance, so accusations of treason can be misused by the government to oppress its citizens. “
“If the judges were in doubt, I think the best way to resolve the case would have been not to impose a prison sentence on the accused. They should be free, ”said Oky. The Jakarta Post after the trial.
She added that her team would deliberate on the matter for seven days before deciding whether to appeal.
Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid echoed Oky, saying that the charges of treason could have been misused by the government against people who should never have been arrested or detained in the first place.
“The six people convicted today only attended a peaceful demonstration, enjoying their right to freedom of expression and assembly. It is appalling that they have been in detention since August 2019, awaiting a verdict on such manifestly abusive charges, “Usman said in a statement.
He urged the government to immediately release the activists.
Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are rights protected by international law and the Constitution, Usman added.
“No one should ever have to undergo this treatment for peacefully attending a demonstration, and it is high time that Indonesia stopped criminalizing the Papuans under the treason provisions.”