Our action is peaceful: Morning Star flag raiser

Morning Star
The defendants in the alleged treason case examine evidence for the raising of the Morning Star at Cenderawasih Sports Center on December 1, 2021, during a trial that took place at the Abepura Penitentiary, Jayapura City, Thursday (4/8/2022). – Jubi/Theo Kelen

Jayapura, Jubi – The Jayapura District Court on Thursday, August 4, 2022, continued the trial of the alleged treason involving seven Morning Star raisers at Cenderawasih Sports Center, Jayapura City. The seven defendants, namely Melvin Yobe (29), Melvin Fernando Waine (25), Devio Tekege (23), Yosep Ernesto Matuan (19), Maksimus Simon Petrus You (18), Lukas Kitok Uropmabin (21), and Ambrosius Fransiskus Elopere (21), were tried in the courtroom of the Abepura Penitentiary.

When examined by the panel of judges, Melvin Yobe said their action aimed to convey a public message that an armed conflict was currently taking place in Papua, in the regencies of Nduga, Intan Jaya, Maybrat, Bintang Mountains, and Yahukimo, which also kills and injured civilians. Melvin said this matter required proper attention from the government and the public so that this conflict can be resolved immediately.

Melvin Yobe and his friends met on December 1, 2021, at Cenderawasih Sports Center at 12.00 local time. They raised the Morning Star on the flagpole in the courtyard and prayed. They raised the Morning Star because it was a symbol of Papuan culture, as regulated in Papua Special Autonomy Law No. 21/2001.

After raising the Morning Star, Melvin Yobe and his friends then marched to the Papua Legislative Council (DPRP) Office carrying the Morning Star flag and two banners that had been prepared. They marched while singing the slogans “We are not Red and White [the national flag of Indonesia],, we are Morning Star”, as well as shouting “Free Papua”.

Melvin said he and his party did not cause traffic. They only stopped in front of the Papua Police Headquarters, because they were arrested by the police. “We were lined up on the shoulder of the road but we did not make traffic. We also did not attack the officers,” he said.

Public Prosecutor, Achmad Kobarubun then asked Melvin Yobe and his friends to explain what they meant by shouting “Free Papua”. Melvin Yobe said Papua was already independent, with Benny Wenda as its president. However, Melvin Yobe and his friends do not know yet the structure of the Papuan government. Yobe also said that the territory of the state of Papua is from Sorong to Merauke, and that they will use the official language ‘Tok Pisin’.

The defendant’s legal advisor, Anum Latifah Siregar, further asked whether Melvin Yobe and his friends had ever seen or raised the Morning Star and were arrested, as well as the rules governing the Morning Star and whether there were sellers of bracelets or T-shirts bearing the Morning Star symbol were also arrested.

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Melvin said he had raised the Morning Star three times, namely in 2019, he brought the Morning Star when he attended mass at the Good Shepherd Church in Jayapura City; in April 2021, when he raised the Morning Star at the Jayapura University of Science and Technology; and On December 1, 2021, which brought him and his friends to the court as they were alleged for treason.

Yobe also said he had never undergone a legal process regarding Morning Star flag raising in 2019 and April 2021. He was only arrested by the police after raising the Morning Star at Cenderawasih Sports Center on December 1, 2021. Further, Yobe said there were no rules prohibiting the raising of the Morning Star,

Presiding Judge RF Tampubolon decided to postpone the trial until Thursday, August 11, 2022. On Thursday, the trial will continue online with the agenda of reading the demands of the Public Prosecutor. (*)

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