A Polish national who was arrested last month on suspicion of helping separatist rebels in Indonesia’s Papua province has denied that he took part in a conspiracy to overthrow the government, his attorney said Wednesday, as police extended his detention for 40 days for further investigation.
Police arrested and detained Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, 39, in Papua’s Wamena regency on Aug. 26, accusing him of conspiracy to supply weapons to the rebels.
“He rejected all the accusations,” Skrzypski’s lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, told BenarNews. “He rejected the conspiracy charges.”
Latifah said her client had “never campaigned for the Papuan separatists nor did he support Papuan independence.”
“He has never been involved in any military training and is not an arms dealer or any such thing. He has never owned weapons or ammunition,” she added.
Skrzypski could face life or 20 years in prison, if found guilty, Latifah said, describing the accusations as “reckless.”
Latifah said she last met Skrzypski on Friday, and described her client as “depressed.”
Papua is one of Indonesia’s poorest regions despite its rich natural resources. It has been the scene of a low-level armed separatist conflict since the 1960s. Human rights groups have accused security forces of committing rights abuses during counter-insurgency operations.
Police have said that Skrzypski, despite being a foreigner, could be charged with involvement in a conspiracy to overthrow the government.
“We are still delving into the case,” national police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said, adding that the Pole would eventually be tried in Papua.
Dedi said Skrzypski was not a journalist and had only posted stories about Papua on Facebook and other social media networks.
“He’s just an ordinary tourist, but he communicated with the Violent Criminal Group and offered to supply weapons and ammunition, but that has not happened and chances of that happening are slim,” Dedi said, using the law enforcement term for the rebel group.
“He also told stories about Papua to his compatriots back in Poland in the hope that they would go viral,” he said.
Dedi said Skrzypski had received consular assistance from the Polish embassy in Jakarta. The embassy did not respond to an email sent by BenarNews.
Last week, the police spokesman told reporters that police seized hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a mobile phone and documents, which included information about the types of weapons and ammunition needed by the Free Papua Movement (OPM) rebel group.
Foreign journalists have been largely banned from reporting from Papua, with the government citing concerns for their security for the restrictions.
In a separate development, security forces in Papua’s Mimika regency arrested eight people during a raid on the headquarters of a local pro-independence organization, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) on Saturday, police said.
The raid followed the arrest of a man who allegedly had 153 rounds of ammunition at the Mimika airport near the Freeport gold and copper mine, Dedi said.
KNPB campaigns for a referendum on self-determination in Papua.
Police have also arrested a man named Simon Magal for communicating with Skrzypski through his mobile phone.
The London-based human rights group, Tapol, said Magal was preparing to leave for Australia to start his post-graduate studies there.
“Arresting Simon on accusations of treason because he met Jakub and talked to him on Facebook is excessive,” Tapol coordinator Adriana Sri Adhiati said.
Adriana said the arrest of Skrzypski and Simon could undermine Indonesia’s efforts to strengthen its democracy.
New military units planned for Papua
On Wednesday, Usman Hamid, Amnesty International’s Indonesia director, told a parliamentary hearing that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo should make good on his promises to solve cases of human rights violations in Papua. These included the shootings of high-school students during a rally in Paniai regency in 2014, which killed four people.
According to Amnesty, at least 95 people were killed in 69 cases of extrajudicial killings in Papua in recent years, but only 25 cases were investigated.
“Our findings show that police and soldiers have used excessive force, used firearms and deployed excessive numbers of personnel, resulting in the death of 95 people," Usman told lawmakers.
Meanwhile earlier this month, Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto told a parliamentary hearing that new military units would be established in the eastern parts of the country, including Papua.
The military is proposing 107 trillion rupiah (about U.S. $7.2 billion) for the 2019 budget, including 1.5 trillion rupiah to “create new organizations in the eastern regions, namely South Sulawesi, Sorong (West Papua province) and Papua,” Tribunnews.com quoted the armed forces chief was quoted as saying.
He said the money would be used to build physical infrastructure, such as office buildings, housing for soldiers and harbors. In May, the military inaugurated four new units in Sorong.
Military officials in Jakarta could not be reached immediately for comment.
In Papua, a member of the province’s representative council, Laurens Kadepa, rejected the military’s plans.
“The plan is not making sense. Many Papuans in the villages are still traumatized by the presence of the military,” he said.
A Wamena resident, Peter John Jonga, told BenarNews that Papuans should have a say in the plans.
“If there’s a special unit, Papuans won’t accept it because they feel that they will be watched more closely and lose their freedom,” he said.
Ahmad Syamsudin in Jakarta contributed to this report.