Five Papuan political activists who were convicted of treason for protesting in support of Papuan independence in Jakarta have been released from prison after serving nine-month sentences.
The activists – Surya Anta, Ambrosius Mulait, Dano Tabuni, Charles Kossay and Ariana Elopere – embraced each other after leaving prison and reaffirmed their commitment to voice the political aspirations of their fellow Papuans.
Ariana was released on Wednesday, while the other four activists left prison on Tuesday.
Mike Himan, a member of the legal team representing the activists, said the five conveyed their moral support to the Papuan activists still serving prison time after being convicted of similar charges.
“The criminalization of Papuan activists for voicing their concerns over Papua by charging them under laws on treason, as well as the Electronic Information and Transactions Law [UU ITE], reflects a regression in democracy,” Himan said in a statement on Wednesday.
Last month, the Central Jakarta District Court found the five activists, along with another activist named Isay Wenda, guilty of treason for holding a protest in support of Papuan independence in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta in August 2019.
The five activists were sentenced to nine months in prison. Isay was given eight months in prison. The court found them in violation of Article 110 in relation to Article 106 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) for conspiring to promote secession.
Hilman argued that the activists had staged the protest to voice their concerns about a racist attack against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java. The racial conflict resulted in the arrest of 57 Papuan political activists in seven cities across the country, according to Hilman.
“The government must immediately put an end to […] repressive and racist attitudes toward Papuans,” he said.
Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman noted in a Facebook post that 62 other activists similarly convicted of treason were still behind bars.
“It must be emphasized that [the five activists] were released after completing their prison sentences, not out of Jakarta’s concern,” she wrote in the post, alongside photos of the reunited activists.