court case against Buchtar Tabuni

Buchtar Tabuni released from prison
Bintang Papua, 17 August 2011
[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]

Sentani: Buchtar Tabuni, the chairman of KNPB, the West Papua National Committee was one of 656 prisoners in Papua to receive remission of his sentence, granted to prisoners on the occasion of the anniversary of Indonesia's independence on 17 August 1945. While other prisoners were eagerly awaiting news of something they have been waiting for for a very long time, Buchtar said he regarded his remission as an 'insult' for the people of West Papua. The remission of three months meant that his incarceration has come to an end. Speaking to his many supporters who were there to welcome him at the prison gate, Buchtar said that hr does not recognised this independence day because 'our ancestors never fought for an Indonesian government but fought for the Melanesian people. 'He said that the remission was merely an attempt by the Indonesian government to improve its reputation on the international stage. 'They think that with my release on this day, it means that I will show my love and affection for Indonesia, but that is not so. I will continue my struggle for this nation even more radically than before,' he said, to the cheers of his supporters. He used the occasion to congratulate the Indonesian government on the anniversary, and went on to ask the government to give its support to the Papuan people who are yearning for their independence. Following his release, Buchtar was accompanied on his way home by scores of his supporters. The convoy of vehicles accompanying him on his way home in Sentani caused serious traffic congestion but the situation remained calm.

by: AWPA Sydney News


Reports received from the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Desk of the Evangelical Christian Church in Papua (GKI)

18 May 2009

Sebby Sambom isolated like a terrorist

Besides Buchtar Tabuni, another Papuan has been charged with subversion. The second hearing of his case took place on 13 May at the Jayapura district court, to hear the demurrer (eksepsi) from his legal team. They described the charge sheet from the prosecutor as lacking in clarity and incorrect.

They also argued that allegations of subversion on the grounds that the accused had joined together with a hundred people fails to meet allegations of subversion. According to the law, these actions were legal because what they were doing was to express their opinions in public. Sebby was simply making his views known in public and this cannot be described as subversion.

Sebby presented an eight-page demurrer entitled 'The Reference of Laws'. He drew attention to three aspects of the way he had been arrested and detained, stating that it was a premature action while the police of Papua handled the demonstration in a 'childish' way.

He also told the court that his treatment was incorrect because he had been held in isolation. 'Physically, I appear to be healthy but psychologically I am unwell because I have been treated like a terrorist. Every week I have been interrogated two or three times by the police.'

However, neither the judges nor the prosecutor responded to his explanation.

The lawyer acting for Sebby, Petrus Eli, SH, asked the court and the prosecutor to have the accused transferred to Abepura Prison, in order to facilitate communications with his client, and to comply with his rights as a detainee. The prosecutor told the court that the accused should remain in custody at the police command. saying that this would make it easier to escort him to future court sessions.

Faced with these contradictory requests, the judge asked the legal team of the accused and the prosecutor to submit their opinions in writing.

The next hearing will take place on 20 May to hear the prosecutor's response to the demurrer of the defence.

On 20 May, the prosecutor told the court that he rejects the demurrer and asked the court to proceed with the trial, saying that the charge sheet had been written clearly, in accordance with Article 143 of the Criminal Code. He also described the demurrer as being confused. He referred to Article 87 of the Criminal Code which states: 'Subversion is an act taken with the aim of initiating an incident as defined in Article 53 of the Criminal Code. And moreover with the qualification that the accused is involved as a participant in an act of subversion.'

The judges' panel said that it was now the turn of the judges to consider the views presented by the prosecutor and take a decision on the matter

The next hearing of the trial will be held on 3 June.

22 april*

Indonesian Public Prosecutors have triggered an attack against a Political Prisoner, Buchtar Tabuni, at the Jayapura District Court in Jayapura, West Papua

On Thursday 22 April 2009, Buchtar Tabuni, was taken by members of the public prosecution team and police from prison to attend a hearing of his trial at the Jayapura District Court. The hearing was scheduled to hear the testimony of an expert witness.

Upon entry to the courthouse Buchtar requested to be put in the cell at the back of the court. He said that wished to see his defense lawyer’s as had been the usual practice before the trial commenced. Team members of public prosecutor and police responded to his request with repressive actions by dragging and beating Buchtar and forcing him into the court cell.

During the incident Buchtar Tabuni said he was held tightly by 3 of the team members of public prosecutor office while he was attacked by members of the Indonesian Police and Indonesia security forces intelligent agents, who were wearing civilian’s clothes and carrying pistols. The Police and intelligence agents beat him and kicked him. This resulted in him suffering back and backbone pain and a wound to his left arm and blisters on his feet. A witness also independently verified that he saw the members of public prosecutor drag Buchtar forcefully and police beat him.

Buchtar said that he was trying to protect his head and face from the attackers while being held and dragged. Buchtar said that members of public prosecutor who were holding his arms had also laid their hands on him. He said that he was hit by a hard object at his back and his arm when he covering his head during the attack. This was confirmed with the medical report, that states 1.there is a scratch wound at left elbow; 2.there is a pain in the back bone; 3.there is a pain oat the leg marks of beaten. The diagnose states there is a wound and marks of in sharp object.

One of Buchtar's defense lawyers said the hearing was cancelled because the expert witness did not show up. He said that Buchtar Tabuni’s defense team was angry at the police and members of public prosecutors because these two institutions used violence against their client.

He said that the incident happened while team of defense lawyers were waiting in their room and had not realized that Buchtar had been taking to the courthouse through another gate (not the usual one). The defense lawyer also reported that 80% of the courtroom was stacked by Indonesian security forces members, including intelligent agents.

The defense lawyer said that in front of judges, the public prosecutor pronounced that he got a direct order from his superior (office of Chief Public Prosecutor) to bring Buchtar through non-formal gate, but did not state a clear reason for this change of procedure. The Judge asked the Public Prosecutor to take Buchtar Tabuni to the hospital and that he be checked by a doctor immediately.

Instead Buchtar was taken to Abepura prison by Public Prosecutor and left there. His defense lawyers came at the prison and asked officials of the prison to provide a medical treatment and check (visum report) in the prison for Buchtar.

Buchtar received a medical check by a nurse, appointed to work as a health worker in the prison. Some of his defense team then went to the police office to report the incident.

On 18 February 2009, Buchtar Tabuni (30) had been charged under article 106 of the Criminal Code regarding ‘makar’ or ‘subversion’, Article 160 of the Criminal Code regarding acts of incitement (rebellion) and article 212 of the Criminal Code regarding resisting personnel of the state, on his first trial. Buchtar Tabuni was arrest on 2 December 2008 in relation to a mass demonstration, which occurred in Jayapura supporting the establishment of International Parliamentarians for West Papua, which took place in London of 15 October 2008.


20 March 2009

Buchtar Tabuni trial: Witness dismissed

A hearing in the trial was held on 18 March to hear testimonies from prosecution witnesses. Four witnesses were due to be heard.

The first three witnesses were members of the police force who all testified that they had seen the defendant giving speeches at two locations, one outside the Cenderawasih University campus and one outside Ekspo Waene, which they alleged constituted threats to the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI). They quoted him as saying: 'Indonesia has no right to rule in Papua'. He was also quoted as describing the Act of Free Choice in 1969 as being unfair and undemocratic.

The fourth witness was Ramses Ohee, head of Waena kampung. When asked by the prosecution whether he had witnessed the defendant at the demonstraation in Ekspo Waena, he replied: 'I was not present at the location of the demonstration I only heard about it from my people who told me what had happened.'

A lawyer defending Buchtar objected to Ramses Ohee appearing as a witness. The prosecutor then asked the witness whether he could explain the Pepera (Act of Free Choice) in 1969 as someone who was present at the time, to which he replied: 'Yes I can.' Whereupon a lawyer for the defendant protested saying that he had not be called as an expert witness. He told the judge that this would amount to pitting Papuans against each other.

When the judge asked the prosecutor to repeat the question, the latter said that he could not do so, and therefore the question was taken over by the judge. He asked the witness: 'Is it true that you were not present at the demonstration which was held at that time?' When Ramses answered, 'Yes it is', the judge said that was as far as he could take the matter and he then adjourned the hearing until the following Wednesday (25 March).

At the hearing on 25 March a film of Buchtar leading the IPWP demonstration will be shown.

As on previous occasions hundreds of people gathered outside the courthouse. Photos accompanying the report received from the GKI (Christian Evangelical Church in Papua) showed the large crowd with a number of banners and long lines of police, including Brimob, carrying large shields for protection.

11 March 2009

In the hearing on 11 March, the team of defence lawyers staged a walk-out after the judges rejected their demurrer arguing that the trial should not proceed, and there were scuffles with the police outside the court when Buchtar Tabuni was seen leaving the court and entering the police van (to be driven back to prison).

The head of the defence team, Petrus Ell, said that they had staged a walk-out in protest against the injustice of the court's decision to proceed with the trial. because they regard the decision as being against justice. 'For a very long time, political trials in Papua have been unacceptable but regardless of this, the judges always agree with the charges made by the prosecution.'

When the lawyers walked out, leaving the courtroom empty, Buchtar grabbed hold of a microphone and said: 'I dont accept the decision of the court. The judges must conduct the trial in keeping with justice. We are ready to boycott the elections. All we have is people power.'

He then told the panel of judges that he would not attend the next hearing of the trial (scheduled for 18 March).

The chairman of the judges said in response that regardless of whether the accused was present, the next hearing would go ahead to hear the testimony of the witnesses. Buchtar then left the court, under heavy police guard and was speedily boarded onto the police van.

As he watched this happen (outside the court), Petrus Eli shouted: 'Let him go. Let him go.'

On hearing this, the hundreds of people rallying outside the court started to shout: 'Release Buchtar! Release Buchtar!' The situation could have got very much worse, but others present managed to prevail on the crowd, estimated to amount to 150 people, to calm down. The police officer in charge of about 200 policemen, ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.

Soon afterwards, Victor Yeimo, the chairman of the West Papuan National Committee, made a statement to the press. He called the trial a political farce, and said that it was a provocation intended to stir conflict. He warned the judges, the prosecutor and the police as well as the government to take immediate action to release Buchtar before the forthcoming election on 9 April.

He also protested against the decision to call Ramses Ohee as a witness at the hearing on 18 March. This person was not present at the rally on 16 October last year. Moreover, he described Ohee as a 'red-and-white' leader (meaning pro-Indonesian, after the colours of the Indonesian flag).

Harry Maturbongs, coordinator of Kontras Papua expressed his amazement at the decision of the judges to accept the charge-sheet of the prosecutor which he described as 'unclear, inaccurate amd vague' and full of mistakes. One mistake was that the prosecutor should have given the interrogation verbatim report to the defence lawyers of the accused but had failed to do so.

19 February 2009

The trail of Buchtar Tabuni begins

The first hearing in the trial of Buchtar Tabuni (30) opened at the Jayapura District Court on 18 February 2009. This hearing was devoted to the presentation of the charge sheet against the accused which was delivered by prosecutor Maskel Rambolangi SH.

He accused Buchtar of being the coordinator for the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), the evidence being that he had twice coordinated mass demonstrations at the University of Cenderawasih campus at Ekspo Waena on 16 October and had delivered political speeches that were deemed to be a threat to the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia.

Additional evidence consisted of banners on which the following were

written: 'Referendum Yes, Otonomi Khusus (Special Autonomy) No', 'West Papua Problem is not Indonesia Problem', 'We want to International dialog' There was also a large poster bearing the flags of the USA, the UN, the UK, as well as the Dutch and Indonesian flags, with the words: The UN Invasion of West Papua. We Want Peace.

Buchtar Tabuni was charged under Article 106 of the Criminal Code regarding subversion, Article 160 of the Criminal Code regarding acts of incitement and Article 212 of the Criminal Code regarding resisting personnel of the state.

The judges hearing the case were Manungku P, SH, Hotman Simamora SH and Lucky R SH. A team of 17 lawyers defending Buchtar Tabuni was also present.

The trial will continue on 25 February when the defence will deliver their response. At the end of the hearing, Paskalis Letsoin PH called on the judges to bear in mind the rights of the accused. The hearing was scheduled to commence at 8.30am but did not commence until 10.00am because of the late arrival of Judge Maskel Rombolangi SH

In order to guard the courthouse, the Police Force deployed two companies consisting of 200 Brimob members and anti-riot police, armed with rifles, under the coordination of the deputy police commander of Jayapura, Andereas Paru. Members of Brimob searched all those who attended the hearing.

Paskalis Letsoin, a defence lawyer, asked the police and Brimob to respect the court hearing by not using such a large number of troops at future hearings, because this was an act of terror against the accused.

The accused was wearing a brown jacket, not the military attire which he usually wears when leading demonstrations. His sideburns had been shaved off and he was clean shaven.

The accused almost fell to the ground when the wheel-chair which had been provided for his use broke down; it was also very dirty. It had to be replaced with another chair.

After the hearing, the accused was driven back to Abepura Prison, while a crowd of about 100 people shouted, 'Long Live Buchtar, Free Buchtar' The coordinator of this action, Victor Yelmo said that he and his colleagues would organise a similar demonstration on the occasion of the next hearing.

Buchtar was arrested on 2 December in connection with a mass demonstration which he coordinated in support of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua which took place on 16 October in London. While Buchtar has survived, a colleague of his, Yosias Syef was murdered in Sentani District after he had finished distributing leaflets calling on people to attend the IPWI on 16 October 2008.

* Report from Koalisi Masyarakat Sipil untuk Keadilan dan Perdamaian di Tanah Papua (Civil coalition for Justice and Peace in Papua) which beside the JPIC-GKI includes the churches of Papua, Foker-LSM, SKP Jayapura and LP3A-Papua.