Free all West Papuan Political Prisoners!

The International League of People’s Struggle Commission 3 on human rights and political prisoners strongly calls for the release of all West Papuan and South Moluccas political prisoners held in various prison cells in Indonesia.

We urgently call for the immediate release of Sayang Mandabayan, 34 year old young mother, and elderly couple Izaak Siahaja, 80 years old, and Pelpina Werinussa Siahaja, 72 years old.

Mandabayan is currently detained in Manokwari, West Papua, charged with treason for carrying 1500 small Morning Star flags and speaking during the 2019 West Papua uprising. Morning Star flag is the symbol of the West Papuan’s struggle for freedom and for right to self-determination; the symbol is declared illegal in Indonesia. Sayang Mandabayan is a breastfeeding mother of a one year old child which she is only occasionally allowed to breastfeed inside prison.The Siahaja couple were convicted of treason and sentenced to five years in prison for displaying the banned Benang Raja flag of the separatist movement of South Moluccas inside their home. They are currently held at the Waiheru and Passo prisons in Ambon, Moluccas islands.

Dozens more students, farmers, anti-racism activists political prisoners are held in various prisons in Indonesia. About a dozen are women, one of whom has accused two police officers of sexually harassing her inside her jail. Majority are on remand while waiting for their trial in various Indonesian courts. Many have been charged of treason and convicted. Six student activists from Jakarta were sentenced to up to nine months in prison for participating in a peaceful rally outside the State Palace in 2019.

In the light of the COVID 19 pandemic which is ravaging populations in countries globally, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged governments to decongest prisons to halt a calamitous spread of the deadly virus citing “specific-at risk groups such as pregnant women, people with disabilities, elderly prisoners, and to those with underlying health conditions, minor and low risk offenders, people nearing the end of their sentences, and every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and those detained for critical, dissenting views.” She further stressed that political prisoners should be among the first to be released observing that countries are releasing prisoners in droves but keeping its tight leash on political prisoners. Indonesia is set to release around 30,000 prisoners but unfortunately political prisoners are not included.

We urge the Indonesian government of Joko Widodo to release young mother Sayang Mandabayan and elderly couple Izaak Siahaja and Pelpina Werinussa Siahaja unconditionally without delay. Not a day more shall they be held in prison.

We call for the release of all West Papuan and South Moluccan political prisoners detained in various detention cells in Indonesia, in Wamena, Papua, Ambon Moluccas, Manokwari, West Papua, Balikpapan East Kalimantan, Jayapura, Papua, Sorong Papua and Fakfak, Papua. These prisoners don’t deserve to be in jail for expressing their beliefs. They have to be saved from the onslaught of COVID 19 infection. ###

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