Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Papua Digest

Our friends across the pond at Amnesty International UK have launched "Papua Digest," as part of their comprehensive Papua campaign.

At this year's Get On The Bus event in New York City - in solidarity with our friends in the Washington, D.C. area and Mid-Atlantic region - we will be calling for the immediate release of Filep Karma. A former civil servant, Filep Karma was arrested in December 2004 for taking part in a peaceful flag-raising ceremony in Apepura, Papua Province in Indonesia. Karma and other activists were raising the "Morning Star" flag, a symbol of Papuan independence. Indonesian law forbids the display of regional logos or flags which are symbols of separatist movements. He was convicted of treason in May 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.*

Amnesty International takes no position whatsoever on the political status of any province of Indonesia, including calls for independence. However the organisation believes that the right to freedom of expression includes the right to peacefully advocate referendums, independence or other political solutions. Amnesty International therefore considers Filep Karma to be a prisoner of conscience and is calling for him to be released immediately and unconditionally.

There is a lot of information about the history and human rights situation in the West Papua region. Including a report called, Indonesia: Jailed for Waving a Flag - Prisoners of Conscience in Maluku (PDF).

*Compared to the eight- to tenth-month sentences that were given to Indonesian soldiers who tortured and abused Papuan villagers. Read the Amnesty International reaction here.

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