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Home » » 10 years sought for independence activist

10 years sought for independence activist

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on June 21, 2009 | 4:20 PM

Angela Flassy , The Jakarta Post , Jayapura | Thu, 06/18/2009 1:20 PM | The Archipelago

Prosecutors told the district court in Jayapura, Papua, on Wednesday that pro-independence activist Bucthar Tabuni should be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for alleged treason.

Buchtar, chairman of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), was arrested in Jayapura last December for leading a peaceful demonstration to support the launch of the IPWP in London.

The protest rally was held on Oct. 16, 2008 and was attended by hundreds of Papuans. The IPWP campaigns for the peaceful independence of West Papua from Indonesia and for the right to self-determination for local indigenous people.

Buchtar is now facing multiple criminal charges.

At the trial Thursday, Prosecutor Maskel Rambulangi told the court that Buchtar was guilty of violating Article 106 in the Criminal Code for an act of treason, Article 160 on provocation and Article 212 on acts against the state.

"When giving a speech during the demonstration, Bucthar Tabuni hinted at calling for separation *of Papua* from Indonesia, or the handover of part of Indonesia's territories to the foreign side," Maskel said.

"He also attempted to make this region sovereign, or independent," he added.

Responding to the charges, Buchtar directly consulted with his team of lawyers.

The panel of three judges, Manungku Prasetyo, Hotnar Simarmata and Lucky Rombot Kalala, adjourned the trial for a week to allow the defendant's lawyers to prepare their defense.

Iwan Niode, one of the lawyers, rejected the charges against Buchtar as "unrealistic", saying the prosecutors used "rubber articles" to indict his clients.

Such articles should have been scrapped because they could be used to attack anyone criticizing the government, Iwan argued.

These articles could also be manipulated to "suppress pro-democracy activists like Buchtar Tabuni", he added.

"Bucthar Tabuni just made a speech and raised an opinion *at the peaceful rally*."

"He did not hoist any flags, or carry any guns, let alone try and establish a separate state. Is he capable of that?

"I think the prosecutors falsely believe that Buchtar Tabuni is involved in an act of treason, to separate Papua from the unitary state of Indonesia, so they design indictments against him. It's unrealistic," Iwan said.

He urged the judges to avoid "co-optation" with the prosecutors, so they could do justice to his client.

"If outside Papua, people can freely raise their opinions, why is free speech still restrained in Papua, and treated as treason?

"It is an act of discrimination against Indonesian citizens," Iwan added.

Also on trial Wednesday was Bucthar's fellow Papuan activist, Sebby Sambom, who is facing similar charges for the same pro-independence demonstration.

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