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Offline mayya

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West Papuan political prisoners reject pardon deal
« on: August 29, 2013, 17:51:12 PM »
West Papuan political prisoners reject pardon deal

Papua governor offered Selpius Bobii and other jailed activists pardon for renunciation of independence struggle

 Marni Cordell, Thursday 29 August 2013 01.10 BST

Papuan Students Alliance march demanding democracy and freedom for West Papua – two days before Papua governor's prison visit. Photograph: REX/ZUMA

A West Papuan political prisoner serving three years in jail for treason was offered a pardon by the Indonesian government if he renounced the struggle for independence.

Selpius Bobii, who was jailed in 2011 after declaring independence from Indonesia, said Papuan governor Lukas Enembe visited his prison on 17 August and offered to let him and his fellow political prisoners out of jail if they stopped agitating for independence.

The long-time activist refused the deal.

Enembe confirmed to Guardian Australia that he met with Bobii and other political prisoners on what is Indonesia’s national day, but he declined to say whether an ultimatum was issued.

“I led the Independence Day flag ceremony and announced the pardon,” he told Guardian Australia. “But [in] the cells where the prisoners of treason cases were detained they yelled out, ‘Oi, no need, just get out, freedom for Papua, no negotiation’.”

The governor, who was accompanied by a military commander and a high-ranking police officer, urged Bobii and 24 other inmates serving time for politically motivated crimes at Jayapura’s Abepura prison to accept the Indonesian government’s authority over West Papua.

“I challenged them. I told them that my parents were victimised because they were talking about the independence of Papua. I said, please don't use those words that way. A lot of people have died because of it,” he said.

But Bobii told Guardian Australia that all but one of the political prisoners chose to stay in their cells rather than engage with the governor.

“Several political detainees … raised their voices from their cells to assert their protest against Enembe’s address,” he said. “Police officers, plain-clothed Indonesian military and prison officers quickly moved to deal with the few vocal detainees.”

Fellow political prisoner Filep Karma, who is serving 15 years for raising the banned “morning star” flag, told the governor from his cell: “It’s impossible for the people of Papua to unite with the people of Indonesia because the majority of Indonesians consider Papuans to be half-animal … Indonesians regard Papuans as similar to human monkeys.”

He added: “So many Papuans have become victims because of the Papuan struggle for freedom and we also are imprisoned for that same struggle.”

Bobii told Guardian Australia he passed a message through Enembe to the Indonesian president.

“We declared Papua to be a state and because of that we are here in prison. Tell President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that the nation of Papua is ready to negotiate,” he said.

“Also tell him we, as Papuan political detainees, reject the giving of clemency in whatever form that may take.”

He said the governor’s request was “deeply hurtful for Papuans”.

“This really touches on some very deep old wounds for the people of Papua, who for more than 50 years have constantly struggled and their people been sacrificed again and again, losing thousands of their people killed by both overt and covert means in the long struggle for freedom,” he said.

“The governor is holding hands with the Indonesian military and police, not only to try and make a success of Jakarta’s project in Papua but also with the hidden intention of indirectly terrorising and intimidating those of the Papuan freedom movement. But his agenda, as he visited the Abepura prison, totally failed.”