Friday, January 28, 2011

Letter from Papuan Political Prisoner Buchtar Tabuni


Police Isolation Cell, 18 January, 2011

Police-General Bekto Suprapto,

With respect,

With regard to my detention in a police isolation cell for almost two months, I wish to raise the following problems with the Chief of Police in Papua:

1. Will the police in Papua explain what my status is, whether I am a detainee (tapol) or a convicted political prisoner (narapidana). If I am being held as a detainee in connection with the riot that occurred in Abepura Prison on 3 December 2010, I ask to be given an arrest warrant by the police for the period that I have been held in a police isolation cell . And whether what I myself did together with Filep Karma at the time of the riot was not in fact an attempt to calm things down while trying to be a link between the prison officers and the prisoners who were involved in the riot. If my status is that of a narapidana, I hereby ask to be transferred to Abepura Prison Class IIA. This is because being held in an isolation cell by the police in Papua has had the following very damaging consequences for me:

Go Down to the Woods Today: a Small Portrait of Indonesian Bureaucracy

Bureaucrats are killjoys the world over. Such as the other day in Bengo-Bengo near to Makassar. Our plan was to camp in the forest for a few days. We stopped at the outpost of the guard who works there just to check the way to the waterfall we wanted to visit. Unexpectedly (although not entirely surprisingly) he tells us there is a new arrangement where any group wishing to enter the forest, owned by a local university Universitas Hasanuddin must obtain a letter of permission from the university's forestry department first, accompanied by a payment of 200,000 rupiah.

We suppose that there is no reason for this bureaucracy other than the typical practice of public officials, in this case university staff, aiming to add a little extra to their salary. This small-scale corruption is so widespread in Indonesia that it almost becomes seen as legitimate, always taking advantage of positions of authority to impose an extra charge here and there. The final legitimacy, of course, comes from our obedience if we choose the easy life and pay up.