Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Anes Tabuni, first and second on the left, wore a 'koteka,' or traditional Papuan penis sheaths, at their treason trial in the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday. (Antara Photo/Livia Kristianti)

Treason Trial Postponed After Defendants Refuse to Take Off Their Traditional Papuan Penis Gourds


JANUARY 13, 2020

Jakarta. Judges at the Central Jakarta District Court postponed a court session during a trial for six Papuan rights activists accused of treason on Monday since two of the defendants, both originally from Papua, chose to wear the "koteka," or traditional penis gourds, inside the courtroom.

The six defendants – Dano Anes Tabuni, Suryanta Ginting, Ambrosius Mulait, Arina Elopere, Charles Kossay and Isay Wenda – were arrested after taking part in a demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Aug. 28 last year.

They were accused of hoisting the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag – a symbol of the free Papua movement, a punishable offense in Indonesia. 

The six activists were arrested in separate locations in Jakarta on Aug. 30 and 31.

State prosecutors have charged them with treason and plotting an evil conspiracy against the government. They have been on trial since December.

Two of them – Ambrosius Mulait and Dano Anes Tabuni – decided to wear the koteka inside the courtroom on Monday.

"This doesn't mean that [the court] does not respect [traditional attire]. [But next time] please dress as you did in the last court session [in December]. You are allowed to wear shorts and hats," chief judge Agustinus Triwiranto said, as quoted by

The koteka is part of the traditional outfit for men in some Papuan ethnic groups. It covers the male genitalia and is usually made of dried-out gourd. 

The trial will be continued next Monday, when state prosecutors are due to read their response to the defense.

Dano said he would stick with wearing the koteka during the trial since it is part of Papuan culture.

"The judges asked [us] to replace the koteka with pants. We could be topless, but court rules apparently forbid us from wearing the koteka. But if I obey the judges' order, I'll be excommunicated by my fellow Papuans. That's why I will insist on wearing the koteka again in the next session," Dano told Antara news agency.

Ambrosius supported his friend's stance, saying, "We deliberately wear the koteka to say, 'This is our identity and our culture.' We will wear it again in the next court session."