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The kidnapping of Papuan Governor Enembe

Happier times before his disappearance - Papua Governor Lukas Enembe with his people (Papua Government Facebook)

| Asia Pacific Report

BRISBANE - Today is exactly one month since the Governor of Indonesian Papua, Lukas Enembe was 'kidnapped' at a local restaurant during his lunch hour.

The officials involved were from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and Indonesian security forces.

The crisis began in September 2022, when Governor Enembe was named a suspect by KPK and summoned by Indonesia’s Mobile Brigade Corps after being accused of receiving bribes equivalent to K250,000.

Since the governor’s kidnapping, Indonesian media have been flooded with images and videos of his arrest and deportation.

He was filmed being handcuffed in Jakarta while in an orange KPK prisoner uniform and wile being admitted to a heavily armed military hospital.

Besides the public display of power and criminality, the governor, his family and lawyers are still enmeshed in Jakarta’s health and legal system.

Enembe's health is said to be continuing to steadily deteriorate.

The first KPK investigation on 12 January failed because of his declining health as well as insufficient concrete evidence to support the allegation.

During the first examination, the governor’s lawyer, Petrus Bala Pattyona, stated his client was asked eight questions by the KPK investigators.

Petrus stressed the questions had no substance to support the allegations.

The authorities in Jakarta continue to question the governor and others suspected of involvement in the alleged corruption case, including his wife and son.

Meanwhile, the governor’s health crisis is causing a massive rift between the governor’s side, civil society groups and government authority.

A week ago, the governor's family issued this statement: “The governor of Papua is critically ill today but earlier the KPK still forced an examination and wanted to take him to the Gatot Subroto Hospital, owned by the Indonesian Army. The governor refused and requested treatment in Singapore instead.”

The family also said that the Indonesian Medical Association and Gatot Subroto Hospital did not disclose the results of the governor’s medical examination.

As a result, Lukas Enembe was forced to undergo further investigation by the KPK.

Angered by this treatment, the governor’s team said, “only those who are unconscious and dead to humanity can insist that the governor is well.”

They said that the Indonesian Medical Association, Gatot Subroto Hospital and KPK had “played with the pain and the life” of the governor.

“The governor complained that in KPK custody there was no appropriate bedding for sick people.

"Earlier today, the governor’s family complained about the situation to the country’s human rights commission, but they refused to accept it.

“That’s where the governor is, and that’s where we are now.

"They even called for security forces to be deployed at the human rights office as if we were committing crimes there,” the  family stated.

In a statement, Gabriel Goa, chair of the Indonesian Law and Human Rights Institute, criticised the Human Rights Commission.

He questioned the integrity of the chair of the National Human Rights Commission, Atnike Nova Sigiro, for not independently investigating the violations by the KPK of the governor's rights.

Goa stated that he had “never seen anything like this” in his 20 years of handling cases related to violations of human rights.

Goa warned: “If this is ignored, and something bad happens to Governor Lukas Enembe, the Human Rights Commission and KPK Indonesia will be held responsible, since victims, their families, and their legal companions have made efforts as stipulated by law.”

Despite these grave concerns for the governor’s health and rights, the KPK deputy chair, Alexander Marwata, stated that the governor was well enough to undergo the KPK’s investigation and didn’t need to go to Singapore.

He said that Gatot Subroto Hospital and the Indonesian Medical Association can handle his health needs.

Governor Lukas Enembe montage 2
Images of the harsh treatment of Governor Lukas Enembe after the KPK detained him on 10 January (Montage 2/YK/APR)

In response to Jakarta’s mistreatment of Governor Enembe, Papua New Guinea’s Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah condemned Jakarta’s “cruel behaviour”.

Namah, whose electorate borders Papua province, said it was difficult to ignore this issue because of his people’s traditional and family ties that extend into West Papua.

According to the PNG Post-Courier, Namah urged the United Nations to investigate the issue, particularly the manner in which Governor Enembe was being treated by the Indonesian government.

Dr Roy Rening, a member of the governor’s legal team, said the governor’s designation as a suspect had been prematurely determined.

Dr Rening said the governor was unaware that he was already under investigation by the KPK when he was summoned to appear.

The KPK had declared the governor as a suspect based on warrant letters which had changed dates and intent.

There appears to be a consistent pattern of Indonesia’s behaviour — setting a trap that led to the kidnapping of the governor.

As thousands of Papuans guarded the governor’s residence, Jakarta employed the humanist approach; what Jakarta elites proudly refer to as the 'nasi bungkus' (pack of rice) strategy.

A visit by Firli Bahuri, chair of KPK, to the governor in Koya Jayapura, Papua, on 3 November 2022, was perceived as being 'humane', but it was a false approach intended to gain trust.

Information from the governor’s side alleged that the governor had been advised to put his health first, allowing him to travel to Singapore for routine medical check-ups as he had in the past.

KPK, however, stated that it had never said such things to Governor Enembe during that meeting.

With hindsight, what seemed to have resulted from the KPK chief’s visit to the governor’s house had loosened the governor’s defence.

In order to achieve Jakarta’s objectives, eliminating the power and hope emerging from West Papuan leaders appears to have been the key strategy.

Victory Yeimo, a Papuan independence figure facing similar health problems, has also been placed under the Indonesian judiciary with no clear outcome to date.

He faces charges of treason and incitement for his alleged role in anti-racial protests that turned into riots in 2019 following the attack on Papuan students in Surabaya by Indonesian militia.

Yeimo provided a key insight into how this colonial justice system operated in a short video that recently appeared on Twitter. He explained:

“Although I have not been charged, I have been sentenced. It appears as if the decision has already been made.

“This seems unfair to me and is a lesson to the Papuan people. You [Indonesia] decide whether or not there is legal justice in this country?

“Does the law in this country provide any guarantees to Papuans so that we feel we are proud to live in the republic of Indonesia? If the situation is like this, I am confused.”

Tragically, choices and decisions about the existence of Papuan leaders like Governor Enembe and Victor Yeimo are made by a shadowy figure, camouflaged in a human costume and incapable of feeling the pain of another.

Yamin Kogoya is a West Papuan academic/activist who has a Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University and who contributes to Asia Pacific Report. He is from the Lani tribe in the Papuan Highlands and is currently living in Brisbane


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