TAPOL condemns cancellation of early release for Jakarta Five prisoners

Jakarta Six
The Jakarta Six ... finally all six are free after five others have been released from jail. Image: TAPOL/Licas News

Pacific Media Centre

TAPOL has condemned the political decision to cancel the early release of five political prisoners that were arrested in Jakarta for demonstrating in favour of self-determination of West Papua.

On April 24, the Central Court of Jakarta sentenced Paulus Suryanta Ginting, Ambrosius Mulait, Dano Tabuni, Charles Kossay and Ariana Elopere to nine months’ imprisonment; while Isay Wenda was sentenced to eight months.

A sixth prisoner – and they were known as the Jakarta Six – Isay Wenda was released last month on April 29 having served his full sentence, the human rights watchdog reports.

READ MORE: Jailing of Jakarta Six fuels virus fears over Papuan political prisoners

The Ministry of Law and Human Rights implemented a new policy on prisoners as a result of the covid-19 pandemic in early April, making provisions for the conditional release or assimilation of those who have served at least two-thirds of their sentences.

The remaining five political prisoners have to date served eight months and 12 days of their sentences.

Suryanta, Ambrosius Mulait, Dano Tabuni, and Charles Kossay are currently detained in Salemba Detention Center. Ariana Elopere is detained at Pondok Bambu Detention Center where 24 prisoners have tested positive for covid-19.

On Monday afternoon, the five remaining prisoners signed “letters of execution of sentences” and in the evening, guarantors signed “letters of assimilation”. The guarantor for Suryanta, Dano Tabuni and Ambrosius Mulait is the priest Suarbudaya Rahadian. The guarantor for Charles Kossay is his sister Sati Kossay.

Yesterday, at midday, they signed letters confirming assimilation release, tested negative for covid-19 and were given rice and instant noodles by the detention centre to take home.

After these preliminary steps which should have preceded their release, they waited a further 30 minutes and were then summoned by the Head of Registration of Salemba’s Detention Centre. He relayed to the prisoners that a political intervention from the central government had resulted in their planned release being cancelled.

The Jakarta Five will now serve out their full sentences before being freed on May 26.

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