Jayapura. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promised to free all Papuan political prisoners, a legislator claimed here on Wednesday.
The prisoners will reportedly be offered clemency as part of the priority points under the government’s “special autonomy plus” program.
“The president has promised to offer clemency and freedom for inmates who were involved in the politics of Papuan freedom,” said Yunus Wonda, a deputy speaker of the provincial legislature.
Yunus said that the president had made the promise in a recent meeting at his private residence in Cikeas, which was attended by Papuan figures including Papua Governor Lukas Enembe.
“The president conveyed it straight to us during a dialog at Cikeas on April 29,” Yunus said.
There are estimated to be up to 50 Papuan political prisoners currently held nationwide. The website papuansbehindbars.org lists 40 people and the offenses for which they were convicted, which include raising the banned Morning Star separatist flag, treason and taking part in rallies such as “indigenous people’s day celebrations” and “anti-Freeport demonstrations.”
The Papuan legislature prioritized their release as part of discussions with the president on granting increased autonomy, or “special autonomy plus,” to the province.
“The release of the political prisoners was one of the important points under special autonomy plus that was proposed to the head of state,” Yunus said.
“The president had no objection and is ready to offer clemency,” he said, adding that the political prisoners would receive facilities and jobs from the government once they were released. “It’s hoped that the political prisoners will join the Papuan people in the development [process] to create prosperity,” he said.
Under the special autonomy plus program, the central government will allow Papua to fully manage its own natural resources, Yunus added.
He said that the president would declare the promised clemency in August to coincide with his visit to Papua to inaugurate the special autonomy plus program.
“The president will come to Papua to hand over the special autonomy plus deal that all Papuan people are longing for.”
The president’s plan to end political imprisonment does not appear to have been conveyed to police in Papua, however. As recently as Monday last week, police in Jayapura arrested four activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) as they were holding a rally protesting human rights abuses in Papua.
According to comments by Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Gede Sumerta Jaya as quoted in suarapapua.com, one of those, KNPB chairman Victor Yeimo, remains in custody since he was already sought by police in relation to unserved prison time due to a previous conviction for demonstrating in 2009.