Activists call for release of Papuan student following arrest of Polish man
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta, posted: Sun, September 9, 2018 | 11:04 am
Human rights activists have demanded the immediate release of Papuan student Simon Carlos Magal and Polish citizen Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, who have been detained by the Wamena Police over illegal arms deal allegations.
Skrzypski was arrested in Wamena on Aug. 26, followed by Simon on Sept. 1. According to Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. AM Kamal, police found evidence that showed the two men had been in communication since 2016 to discuss the purchase of firearms for the West Papua Liberation Army.
“His [Simon’s] arrest was done accordingly, as stipulated in legal procedures, and everyone is able to monitor the case,” he told The Jakarta Post last week.
Kamal said police found several videos and pictures on Skrzypski’s cell phone that depicted him posing with members of the armed group while holding a firearm. Based on the evidence, police suspected Skrzypski had been secretly training the West Papua Liberation Army on how to use firearms.
Both Simon and Skrzypski are subject to treason charges and are awaiting trial.
The United Kingdom-based organization TAPOL has demanded the immediate release of Simon and Skrzypski and urge a fair trial.
According to a statement published on TAPOL’s website, Skrzypski is “an avid extreme traveler with a huge passion for learning other cultures, language, as well as humanitarian issues”. Prior to his visit to West Papua, Skrzypski previously visited several countries such as Armenia, Myanmar and Iraq to learn about their respective cultures and histories.
TAPOL also found that this was not the first time Skrzypski had visited and interacted with an armed independence group. In Spring 2017, the Polish man visited the Kurdish Liberation Army in Iraq.
“We believe that [Simon] has simply been dragged in by the actions of Mr. Skrzypski. Our findings show that Mr. Skrzypski is merely a tourist who may have been acting recklessly and irresponsibly in a conflict area,” TAPOL writes on its website.
TAPOL also found that two West Papuans, identified as EW and AW, had been arrested for the alleged possession of ammunition at a location similar to where Skrzypski’s arrest had taken place.
According to the human rights organization, a local human rights defender identified as GK believes there is confusion surrounding the case.
“We call on the Indonesian government to stop using highly problematic treason charges that have long been used in excess to both intimidate peaceful dissent and to criminalize rights to the freedom of expression,” TAPOL added on its statement.
Simon’s relative, Yosepha Alomang, and the director of Human Rights and Anti-Violence Association (Yahamak), said a warrant had not bee issued prior to his arrest.
Papuan human rights lawyer Gustaf Kawer told the Associated Press recently that Skrzypski had insisted he was a tourist and did not know the people police say he was linked to. Kawer visited Skrzypski on behalf of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers in Papua but the foreigner had not received any formal legal representation.
Quoting Kawer, AP said the 39-year-old “is being held in an inadequately ventilated cell, given poor food and hasn’t been able to contact family or change his clothes”.
The Polish Foreign Ministry has filed a request with the Indonesian government to be allowed to see the detained Polish citizen, AP reported on Aug. 29.