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46 arrested for raising West Papua Independence flag

In the early hours of Saturday, July 19th, Indonesian police arrested 46 people at a flag raising ceremony in Fafak state.

According local reports, the Indonesian Police attacked the group, “beating them, kicking them with boots and torturing the demonstrators. The men in the group were then stripped to their underwear before being taken to the Police compound. Two women were included in those arrested.”

The arrests come at the outset of a trial for twelve West Papuan students facing twenty years in prison for raising the same flag ,the Morning Star flag of the West Papuan Independence Movement, during peaceful demonstrations last March. For doing so, the students were charged with “subversion” under Indonesian law.

Latest reports from Fafak say that six of the West Papuans involved in last week’s flag-raising ceremony, will also be charged with “subversion.” Their names are:

Simon Tuturop, 58 years;
Tadeus Weripang, 52 years;
Viktor Tuturop, 42 years;
Tomas Nimbitkendik, 19 years;
Benedidiktus Turuop, 35 years;
Teles Piahar, 20 years.

Paula Makabory from the Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights said on July 21:

“The detainees should be released as it is not credible for the Indonesian Police to charge these people on that basis of ’subversion’. Performing a flag raising ceremony and protesting against Indonesian authority is not an act which could over throw the Government. The demonstration was peaceful and such political expression should be a democratic right in West Papua and Indonesia.”

“Public remembrance of the past injustice from the Soeharto period and the ongoing repression of Human Rights, including the right to ’self determination’, is what Indonesia government agencies seek to subvert by arresting these people. This demonstration is only a threat to the status quo in West Papua because it shows the world the kind of Indonesian domination which West Papuans face.”

“To arrest and detain this group, charged under the subversion parts of the criminal code, are draconian. This symbolic protest in itself is clearly not going to overthrow the State of Indonesia.”

“This whole flag raising issue must be an embarrassment to the Indonesian Government”, Makabory went on to say.
“These community leaders who have been political prisoners after being arrested in the time of the Soeharto dictatorship are now being arrested for similar crimes in the ‘New’ and ‘Democratic’ Indonesia.”

“These arrests demonstrate that previous ‘political’ injustice in West Papua from the Soeharto period are not reconciled in Indonesia or West Papua.”

“Injustices of the past have been carried forward by the unreformed Indonesian security forces into the present period so that authoritarian rule continues in West Papua. It is a serous problem and political freedom still does not exist in West Papua.”

For more information, contact:
* Aloysius Renwarin, Supervisor, Els-ham West Papua on +62 815 27801051; or
* Paula Makabory, Institute for Papuan Advocacy & Human Rights on +61 402547517

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