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Via Tapol Reports from West Papua

Press Release – Scoop Coverage of West Papua

At the end of a trial that went on for five months, the court on Wednesday announced its verdict for the two defendants Semuel Yaru and Luther Wrait. They were both sentenced to one year minus the time already served in detention.Via Tapol Reports from West Papua [In some cases, the items are abridged in translation.]

Bintang Papua, 12 August 2010

[Note: Judges rejected charge of rebellion.]

One year sentence for two ‘makar’ defendants

At the end of a trial that went on for five months, the court on Wednesday announced its verdict for the two defendants Semuel Yaru and Luther Wrait. They were both sentenced to one year minus the time already served in detention.

The sentence is lower than that requested by the prosecutor who called for three years. The judges said that there was no evidence that they had committed ‘makar’ (rebellion) but they were found guilty of the alternative charge of incitement (Article 110).

After hearing the verdict, the two defendants along with their legal counsel said that they would consider their options, whether to accept the verdict or appeal against it. They have seven days in which to appeal. ‘We both want to think it over,’ they said.

The prosecutor also said that he would consider the verdict. ‘This would mean entering a plea against the verdict.’

He also said that the defendants were clearly guilty of makar because they had flown the Morning Star flag with the aim of secession from the Republic of Indonesia.’

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JUBI, 12 August 2010

The chairman of the Dewan Adat Papua (Papuan Customary Council) Forkorus Yaboisembut has called for changes to be made to the criminal code in order to minimise the possibility of the police and the army (TNI) shooting civilians. ‘If the police believe that they are in the right and that their actions are in conformity with the law, why do they feel that they have been offended?’

Recalling the murder of Theys Eluay and his chauffeur (in 2001) and other acts against humanity by the army and the police in Papua, it is absolutely clear that they act beyond their powers.

‘It is perfectly natural for a church leader to speak out against criminality and the random activities of the security forces against the civilian population,’ he said.

According to KontraS, the Commission for the Disappeared and the Victims of Violence in Papua, there has been an increase in criminal activity againast Papuan civilians.

The security forces all too easily accuse people of being separatists. The crimes perpetrated against people who raise flags, the dispersal of peaceful demonstrations and the shooting dead of Kelly Kwalik (in 2009 are a clear indication of the absence of any desire to enter into dialogue with the community.

These shootings are resulting in the death of of leaders of independence for Papua. The shooting dead of Kwalik and later of Abdullah Syafei are evidence of the failure of the state to respect democracy, he said.

The accusations made against Kwalik and his organisation as extremists who must be held responsible for all conflicts in Papua are clearly beyond the pale, he said.

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JUBI: 12 August 2010

According to a lawyer at the Cenderawasih University all investors who come to Papua should show respect for the indigenous community in their area of operations.

Ferry Kareth said that there are three systems of law in force in Indonesia, customary law, religious law and the state’s civil and criminal code. All actions in Papua should take account of these three legal systems.

Before coming to Papua to invest their money and start operations here, investors must enter into dialogue with the indigenous population, in order to establish the rights and responsibilities of the people so as to make people feel that they are being treated justly, without fear and without intimidation.

He also said that before agreeing to a project, there should be a thoroughgoing study of its suitability as well as comparative studies in order to establish the positive and negative aspects of the programme.

He was making these remarks in connection with the launch this week of MIFEE, the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate.

This food producing project is likely to involve the investment of between Rp 50 or Rp60 trillion.

[Speaking at a seminar held in Jayapura on Tuesday 11 August, the lawyer Ferry Kareth said it was necessary to study the experiences of projects in other parts of Indonesia such as Kalimantan and Sumatra. These studies should involve people with the necessary expertise in agriculture, forestry, fishery as well as anthropologists. Dont go ahead with projects that bring no benefits at all such as the Hotel Marau in Biak or the bridge built in front of UNCEN university. Hotel Marau has simply disappeared and all that is left is the sign with its name, while the bridge in front of the univesity is useless because no one wants to use the bridge.

With regard to the Merauke project, he said that a lot of time is needed to determine the appropriateness of the project, giving plenty of opportunity to the local people to make their own assessment and decide whether they accept the project or not. It was only in February this year that the district chief of Merauke first made an announcement about the MIFEE project and just six months later, it is already going ahead. This raises the question: do the local people understand what is happening and do they agree with the project or are they simply too afraid to say anything? The government and the investor must first get the consent of those who own the rights to the land. In many cases, there is no consent and no gratitude.

Everyone agrees that Papua is very rich in natural resources but who are these riches for? Large numbers of people are arriving by plane every month from outside Papua, representing a serious threat for the indigenous inhabitants. It is not enough if only the government understands what is going on. He also stressed the importance of there being a written contract between the local people, the government and the investors which clearly sets down rights and responsibilities. All three sides involved should have equal status and should clearly establish the precise area involved and how long the contract will last. The terms of the contract must be very clear so as to ensure that the local communities dont lose everything, leaving nothing for future generations.

As regards the three systems of law, he said that the system dominant in Papua is customary law, more so than written law. In accordance with this law, people will not play around with women or cut down trees in other areas not because they know about civil or criminal law but because they strictly comply with customary law. This law must be clearly acknowledged by the government and the investors because this is the system of law that counts among the local communities.]

ENDS

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