Papuan lawyer acquitted for text message ‘insult’

Good News for all Indonesian human rights defender :

(Papua Story)

A Papuan human rights lawyer has been cleared of all charges under Indonesian law after accusations he sent a text message deemed ‘insulting’ to Indonesia’s president.

The lawyer, Iwanggin Sabar Olif, was alleged to have sent a message warning Papuans that the president had ordered the army to ‘eradicate’ Papuan tribes through a programme of poisoned food and violence. He faced up to six years in prison.

Iwanggin was arrested by thirty anti-terrorism police in October 2007 and then detained for four months. His trial has taken over a year, preventing him carrying out his crucial work as a prominent lawyer defending Papuan tribes’ rights.

Jayapura District Court cleared Iwanggin last week – rare good news at a time of increased repression and violence in Papua. The decision comes soon after Papua’s High Court extended the prison sentences of 11 protesters who were appealing against their conviction for flying the banned Papuan flag.

Iwanggin has worked with respected human rights organisation Elsham West Papua and in 2006 defended a group of Papuan students arrested after protesting against the Indonesian occupation. This may explain why he was singled out and arrested – local people claim that thousands of Papuans received and passed on the same text message.

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