House cautious over planned OPM amnesty

    Lawmakers want a guaranteed surrender by members the Free Papua Organization (OPM) as a precondition for giving political support to the government’s proposal to pardon political prisoners in Papua.

    Margareth S. Aritonang, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Wed, June 24 2015, 10:20 AM

    Lawmakers want a guaranteed surrender by members the Free Papua Organization (OPM) as a precondition for giving political support to the government’s proposal to pardon political prisoners in Papua.

    House of Representatives Commission I overseeing defense and foreign affairs asked for a comprehensive road map for the country’s easternmost regions and expected it to include strategies to safeguard the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) from separatist movements above all else.

    “The NKRI is non-negotiable,” stated Commission I deputy chairman Tubagus Hasanuddin from the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) on Tuesday.

    He cited the lack of clear measures that the government would launch to tackle the OPM as part of the reason for Commission I’s reluctance to grant its political support for the proposal to free political prisoners in Papua, although the discussions were still ongoing.

    Tubagus argued that Commission I was still carefully examining all aspects before making a final decision, including by holding discussions with legal experts, as well as human rights campaigners.

    “We won’t be hasty in supporting the plan because granting amnesty [to political prisoners] would mean that the state recognized the integrity of the OPM,” Tubagus said, arguing that several of the recently detained political convicts in various prisons in Papua and West Papua were affiliated to the separatist group.

    President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has officially asked for political support from the House for the proposal to grant amnesty to Papuan convicts, which has so far hit a stumbling block as lawmakers remain unconvinced about the benefits the country would reap from doing so.

    Commission I, which supervises problems in the resource-rich provinces, kicked off a series of meetings on Monday with Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman to gain their inputs in a follow up to the President’s request.

    Commission I is expected to involve legal experts as well as human rights watchdogs in the discussion during hearings slated next week before presenting its findings in a joint meeting with House Commission III, which oversees law, human rights and security affairs for a final decision to be forwarded to Jokowi.

    According to Commission I deputy chairman Hanafi Rais of the National Mandate Party (PAN), his commission is carefully obtaining information regarding the status of political convicts in Papua and West Papua in order to see whether some of them might have been involved in crimes instead of political activities.

    However, concurring with Tubagus, Hanafi strongly suggested Jokowi’s administration should provide a well designed plan of action for the provinces, particularly in dealing with the OPM.

    “We want the OPM to also positively respond to the government’s plan to free the political prisoners, for example by giving up their weapons or declaring an end to promoting independence,” said Hanafi.

    “We don’t want the separatists to disadvantage the state,” he added.

    There are currently around 90 political convicts detained in prisons around the conflict-prone region, including prominent political activist Filep Samuel Karma.

    Filep is serving a 15-year sentence for raising the banned Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag during a rally in 2004.

    Filep’s controversial arrest, as well as those of other political prisoners, has attracted the attention of the international community, including the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which slammed Indonesia during a quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva in 2012.