“Indonesia: Jailed for waving a flag. Prisoners of Conscience in Maluku” (AI report)
Amnistía Internacional publicou esta semana un informe sobre Indonesia, centrado nos casos de varios presos de conciencia, torturados e encarcerados por mostraren unha bandeira nun acto público. O informe leva por título “Indonesia: Jailed for waving a flag. Prisoners of Conscience in Maluku”. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:
On 29 June 2007, at least 23 men performed the ‘Cakalele’ dance (a traditional Maluku war dance) in front of Indonesia’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Ambon, Maluku province, Eastern Indonesia (See map of Indonesia and Maluku province, p.34-35). At the end of their performance, the Moluccan dancers displayed the ‘Benang Raja’ flag, symbol of South Maluku independence, before central government, foreign and provincial officials. Indonesian law forbids the display of regional logos or flags which are symbols of separatist movements.
Police immediately arrested 22 of them, who are for the most part farmers. While transporting them to local police stations they beat some of them. Most of the men were stripped naked, beaten with sticks, electric cables and rifles, and repeatedly thrown into the sea and dragged out again by police while they were bleeding. Police denied all 22 Cakalele dancers access to their families, friends and lawyers immediately following the arrests and during the first 11 days of their pre-trial detention. All have now been convicted of ‘rebellion’ against the state (makar) under Articles 106 and 110 of Indonesia’s Criminal Code (KUHP, Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana) and sentenced to between seven and 20 years’ imprisonment. Moreover, their trials failed to meet international standards of fairness.
The Indonesian government has the duty and the right to protect life and to maintain public order within its jurisdiction. This is particularly relevant in a province like the Maluku, the setting of an inter-communal conflict between Christian and Muslim groups between 1999 and 2002, and sporadic violent clashes thereafter (see section 2. on historical background).
However the authorities’ response should differentiate between armed groups and peaceful political activists, in line with its obligation to uphold international human rights standards. In particular the Indonesian authorities should respect the rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly, and ensure that any restrictions on these rights are no more than is permitted under international human rights law and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party.
Further, the Indonesian government should abide by its international human rights legal obligations at all times. These include ensuring that torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (other ill-treatment) are prohibited and that this prohibition is enforced in practice; that any officials who commit such violations are held accountable; that trial procedures comply with international standards; and that no one is imprisoned for the peaceful advocacy of their political views.
In the case of the 22 dancers, the response from the authorities was in clear violation of the international human rights standards set out in the ICCPR. The flag-raising event was peaceful and did not advocate or incite violence; and the force deployed by police was unnecessary and excessive. Moreover, not only were these 22 peaceful political activists arbitrarily arrested and detained, but the courts sentenced them to long term imprisonment after unfair trials. In addition, according to a variety of credible sources, police subjected them to torture and other ill-treatment during arrest and detention.
Amnesty International has long campaigned for the right to freedom of expression and assembly to be respected worldwide. Peaceful political activists, including those who support independence, have the right to express their political views. The organization considers the 22 Cakalele dancers to be prisoners of conscience imprisoned solely for peacefully expressing their political views. As such they should be released immediately and unconditionally.
The arrest of these 22 men occurs within a broader context of crackdowns on people who the government claims have taken part in pro-independence or separatist activities in Maluku and elsewhere in Indonesia. At least 72 people in total have been arrested and detained between April 2007 and July 2008 for such activities in Maluku province. Amnesty International believes that many of these people are possible prisoners of conscience, as they may have been arrested and imprisoned solely for their peaceful political protests. Moreover sources indicate that police have tortured and ill-treated some of these political activists during their arrest and detention. Amnesty International urges the Indonesian government to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these reports. Those found responsible should be held to account as a matter of priority. Victims should be granted reparations in accordance with international standards.
The findings of this briefing are based on a wide variety of first-hand and other sources. The report provides information about the conditions of arrest, detention and/or sentencing of 72 people arrested between April 2007 and July 2008 in Maluku, and highlights some of the human rights violations these individuals were subjected to including arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, incommunicado detention, inadequate medical care in detention, and denial of the right to appeal. It also includes recommendations to the Indonesian government, which, if implemented would improve the human rights situation in Maluku province. […]
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