CALL FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF SIMON MAGAL AND
The West Papuan and
Polish pair have been charged with treason in
New York, 7 September 2018
TAPOL and the East
Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
call for immediate release of Simon Carlos Magal and
Jakub Fabian Skrzypski. In the event that Mr.
Skrzypski is prosecuted, we call on all
representative parties to ensure that he is afforded
a fair trial.
Indonesian police arrested West
Papuan student Simon Carlos Magal, 29, on 1
September 2018 in Timika, in connection with the
arrest of Jakub Fabian Skrzypski several days
earlier. According to news reports1, Mr. Skrzypski,
a Polish citizen, was visiting West Papua as a
tourist when he was detained by police in Wamena. He
was arrested on suspicion of being a journalist, and
for reportedly meeting with alleged members of an
armed independence group in West Papua.2 The two men
have been charged with treason and are currently in
jail awaiting trial in Jayapura.
We call on
the Indonesian government
to stop using highly problematic treason
charges that have long been used in
excess to both intimidate peaceful
dissent and to criminalise rights to the
freedom of expression.
The opinions and facts included below are
based on information collected from media reports,
human rights defenders on the ground, and families
and friends of those affected. We understand the
complications of the subject matter at hand. We also
recognise the sensitivity of the issues and the
Indonesian police's role in investigating any
activities not in accordance with the law,
particularly relating to the dealing and possession
of arms. The following findings have not yet been
published in any media. Our aim is to shine more
light on this case and to encourage Indonesian law
enforcement agencies and the general public to
maintain the presumption of innocence towards both
Mr. Magal and Mr. Skrzypski.
arrest, Mr. Magal was preparing to depart for
post-graduate studies in Australia. A well-respected
West Papuan lecturer, MY, has publicly condemned the
arrest and expressed his frustration. Mr. Magal
planned to join MY as a lecturer at the most
prominent state university in West Papua once Mr.
Magal finishes his studies. Mr. Magal's contacts
with Mr. Skrzypski were limited and Mr. Magal has no
capacity to carry out the weapons negotiations that
he is being accused.
Charging Mr. Magal with
treason for having met Mr. Skrzypski and
communicated with him on Facebook is excessive and
not commensurate with Mr. Magal's actions. We
believe that Mr. Magal has simply been dragged in by
the actions of Mr. Skrzypski. Our findings show that
Mr. Skrzypski is merely a tourist who may have been
acting recklessly and irresponsibly in a conflict
area. As a result, local people like Mr. Magal are
left to face superfluous consequences.
friends of Mr. Skrzypski that we interviewed
describe him as an avid "extreme" traveller with a
passion for other cultures, languages, and
humanitarian issues. He had previously travelled to
Armenia, Myanmar, and Iraq to learn about their
cultures and respective histories of genocide.
Before finally visiting West Papua, he had travelled
multiple times to many places in Indonesia. He can
speak Indonesian and, to a lesser degree, some local
languages including Javanese, Ambonese, and
Sources indicate that Indonesian
police used Mr. Skrzypski's photos of him holding
guns as evidence of him being an arms dealer. A
clarification that we received from one of Mr.
Skrzypski's travelmates, alias AS, is that some of
the photos was taken at an indoor sport shooting
range located in Vaud, Switzerland, where Mr.
Skrzypski had been living since 2008. Police
confiscated all of Mr. Skrzypski's belongings,
including the Liberté
et Patrie, Vaud's cantonal flag.
Connect with ETAN
As an "extreme" traveller, the
West Papua Liberation Army is not the first armed
independence group that he has met for the sake of
adventure. He had also visited the Kurdish
Liberation Army in the troubled Qandil mountains
region in Iraq in Spring 2017, before the liberation
of Mosul from ISIS. His intention to learn about
West Papua's struggle is indeed easily
misinterpreted by the Indonesian government. While
Mr. Skrzypski's choices may have been irresponsible
and regrettable, his circumstances appear those of
an idealistic and naive traveller, and not one of a
criminal. By being accused of multiple counts of
treason, we feel he has been unfairly charged.
According to people that Mr. Skrzypski met in
West Papua, he told them that he wished to learn
about West Papuan culture, language, and their
struggle for self-determination. He did document his
travel and meetings, as many tourists do, which
ought not to be confused with "journalistic
Reports indicate that Indonesian
police were concerned about videos obtained from Mr.
Skrzypski's phone. Some videos allegedly depict
several West Papuans thanking the Republic of Poland
for Mr. Skrzypski's visit. We feel this should not
cause an over-reaction. Expressions of thanks to an
individual's State, instead of towards the
individuals themselves, is a way West Papuans
commonly express thanks for international
Two other West Papuans, EW and
AW, were arrested for possession of ammunition at a
similar time and location as Mr. Skrzypski's arrest.
A prominent local human rights defender, GK, who had
met EW, AW, and Mr. Skrzypski, found that the
ammunition belonged to EW and AW and not Mr.
Skrzypski. He believes that the two separate cases
have been confused.
Convictions for treason
charges can carry maximum sentence of life
imprisonment or 20 years in Indonesia. The charge
has long been used in West Papua to intimidate those
who oppose or question Indonesian rule there, and to
criminalise rights to freedom of expression. These
latest charges against Mr. Magal and Mr. Skrzypski
jeopardize the Indonesian government's efforts to
strengthen national democracy, and reverses a trend
which showed fewer cases tried for treason over the
past few years.
The immediate release of Simon Carlos Magal
The immediate release of Jakub Fabian
We believe that Mr. Skrzypski has been unfairly
charged. In the event he is prosecuted, we call on
all representative parties to:
ensure that Mr. Skrzypski is afforded a fair
We call on the Indonesian government to:
stop using highly problematic treason
charges that have long been used in excess to
both intimidate peaceful dissent and to
criminalise rights to the freedom of expression.
TAPOL - promoting human
rights, peace, and democracy in Indonesia 86 Durham
Road, London N7 7DT; +44 (0) 20 7561 7485;
www.tapol.org | facebook.com/TapolUK/ |