17 December 2008

AI Index No. ASA 21/021/2008

Indonesia: Crackdown on freedom of expression in Maluku

At least 70 people have been arrested or imprisoned for peaceful 
pro-independence activities in the province of Maluku, Indonesia over the last 
two years, Amnesty International revealed today. The Indonesian government 
should immediately and unconditionally release all those detained for the 
peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, belief and 

New research indicates that at least 22 of them were severely tortured in 
detention. The 22 activists, led by Johan Teterissa, were arrested on the 29 
June 2007 after performing a traditional war dance in front of President Susilo 
Bambang Yudhoyono in the city of Ambon, the capital. The dance culminated with 
the activists unfurling the Benang Raja flag, a symbol of the Maluku 
independence movement.

After their performance the police, particularly the anti-terrorist unit 
Detachment-88, detained all 22 of them. They were not granted access to legal 
representation and held incommunicado.

They were beaten, forced to crawl on their stomachs over hot asphalt, whipped 
with an electric cable and had billiard balls forced into their mouths. The 
police also beat them on the side of the head with rifle butts until their ears 
bled and fired shots close to their ears. The police threatened them 
continually with further torture, sometimes at gunpoint, to force them to 

Twenty one of them, including Johan have since received sentences of between 
seven and 20 years' imprisonment for 'rebellion' under Articles 106 and 110 of 
the Indonesia Criminal Code, while one is still awaiting trial.

In the past two years another 48 people have been arrested and imprisoned on 
charges of subversion, some for up to 17 years, for activities such as owning, 
sewing or transporting the 'Benang Raja' flag. The most recent arrest took 
place on 18 July 2008.

One of those imprisoned for subversion is Simon Saiya, who was also forced to 
confess his involvement in "terrorist" activities after torture and other 
ill-treatment by the police. Amnesty International has received information 
that he is being detained in a police cell at the police mobile brigade 
(Brimob) detention centre in Tantui, Ambon awaiting trial and is concerned 
about his safety.

The Indonesian authorities should conduct an effective and independent 
investigation into the allegations of human rights violations by members of the 
security forces in Ambon, Maluku, including the torture and other ill-treatment 
of detainees; and prosecute those found to be responsible.


Public Document


For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in 
London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email:

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 

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