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10 Arrested in Papua for Raising Morning Star Flag

August 12, 2012

10 Arrested in Papua for Raising Morning Star Flag

August 11, 2012

The Jakarta Globe

Jayapura. West Papua Police have arrested 10 people for raising the banned
Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence, during a rally in
Manokwari on Thursday.

Authorities say they were cracking down on subversion against the state,
while Amnesty International called on Friday for an investigation into
human rights violations perpetrated by the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob).

A reported 100 people joined a long march in Manokwari, the West Papuan
capital, to commemorate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous
People on Thursday, carrying the Morning Star flag and waving it for an
hour in front of the local office of the Papuan Customary Council (DAP).

Police reportedly arrested up to 10 people from the crowd, accusing them of
being involved in a seditious act.

“You can organize rallies, but don’t bring [Morning Star] flags with the
intention of opposing the state. That is called subversion,” Papua Police
spokesman Sr. Comr. Yohanes Nugroho said in Jayapura on Friday. “We have
seized the flag as evidence,” he added.

Yohanes said police also arrested two men in Serui, the Papua district of
Yapen Islands, for raising another Morning Star flag while calling
themselves citizens of the Federal Republic of West Papua.

The secretary of the West Papua National Authority, Topan, said police not
only seized the flag, but also some documents and electronic equipment.

“They seized all attributes [carried by protesters]. Some were beaten,”
Topan said, as quoted by Indonesian news portal tempo.co.

The Morning Star flag is an especially contentious symbol. Papuan Filep
Karma is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence for raising what the
government calls the “separatist” Morning Star flag in 2004 in Jayapura.

In a statement issued on their website on Friday, Amnesty International
called for an “independent and impartial investigation into reports that
police used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse a peaceful
demonstration.”

Amnesty called the arrests “arbitrary,” and said that according to their
local sources, “some [demonstrators were] reportedly beaten by security
forces during their arrest . . . Indonesian security forces then fired
their guns into the air to disperse the protesters.”

“The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are guaranteed
in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), to which Indonesia is a state party,” Amnesty
International’s website read. “ . . . Amnesty International has documented
dozens of other cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in past years of
peaceful political activists in Papua.”

But Djoko Suyanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and
security affairs, said in 2011 that detained Papuan activists are not
political prisoners, but criminals who have broken the law. Djoko called
the distinction a matter of perception.

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