Five Papuan leaders have been found guilty of treason and sentenced to three years in prison by a court in Papua’s capital, Jayapura.
Forkorus Yaboisembut, Edison Waromi, Selfius Bobii, Dominikus Sorabut and Agus Kraar had been charged over their roles in the peaceful Third Papuan Congress.
Last October, armed soldiers and police surrounded the Congress venue and attacked its participants after they declared their independence from Indonesia.
Shocking videos showed the Indonesian forces shooting, beating and kicking Papuans, from many different tribes, at the peaceful rally.
At least three people were killed during the brutal crackdown, although reliable sources believe there were more deaths. Hundreds were arrested, and at least fifty were found to have been tortured.
Despite clear evidence of widespread brutality, much of which was caught on camera, the police officers responsible received only token punishments: just 17 officers were disciplined, with senior officers being ‘reprimanded’ and seven lower ranking officers being detained for between seven and 14 days.
Serious questions surround the fairness of the trial. There was a heavy armed presence during the court sessions, and one of the Papuans’ lawyers was threatened with prosecution for speaking in defense of his clients.
An appeal against the convictions was launched on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.