Indonesia urged to release detained Papuan activist

Indonesia's government is being urged to release the West Papua pro-independence activist Victor Yeimo.

The West Papua National Committee spokesman was arrested earlier this month over his alleged role in widespread anti-racism protests in 2019.

Yeimo is facing 11 charges, including treason, arson, and incitement.

A statement by police related to his arrest also referred Yeimo's appearance and representations at the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva in March 2019.

An international organisation advocating for the rights of political prisoners in Indonesia, Tapol, is concerned that Yeimo is being targetted for state reprisal, and has made an urgent appeal to Indonesian authorities for his release.

Tapol's Pelagio Doutel said Yeimo was being detained in isolation by police in the Jayapura sub-district of Abepura. He has been fed meals of poor nutrition that give cause to stomach ulcers, which Doutel said was treatment that could potentially be classified as torture.

Yeimo has had previous stints in prison related to his activities exercising his right to freedom of expression, and was subject to torture, according to Doutel.

"His arrest is a significant sign of Indonesia's attempt to clamp down on freedom of expression, and to thwart the West Papua people's movement to seek democratic solutions, the alternative to the problematic Special Autonomy."

According to the Papuans Behind Bars project, which Tapol is involved in, Yeimo is just one of many Papuans to have been detained for apparent political reasons in recent months.

"Between October 2020 and April 2021, there have been one hundred and fifty-four people arrested or detained arbitrarily.

"Most of them were released afterwards of course, but some were detained. At least eleven people from this number are still in detention."


Photo: Info West Papua Caption: Victor Yeimo of the West Papua National Committee