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Human Rights Watch Demands Release of Papuan, Moluccan Activists

January 23, 2012

The Jakarta Post [web site]
January 23, 2012

Human Rights Watch Demands Release
of Papuan, Moluccan Activists

by Sita W. Dewi

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the Indonesian
government to release all political detainees, including Papuan and
Moluccan activists, who have been held for peacefully expressing views
opposing the government.

“Police violence in Papua got a lot worse in 2011,” HRW deputy
director for Asia Elaine Pearson said in a statement published on its
website,, on Monday.

“The common thread is the failure of the Indonesian government to
protect the rights of all its citizens,” Pearson added.

In its 676-page report, HRW assessed progress on human rights during
the past year in more than 90 countries, including in Arab countries
where revolutionary uprisings bloomed.

In October, police used excessive force when arresting more than 300
Papuans involved in a three-day Papuan Congress near Jayapura, the
capital of Papua province. At least three men died and more than 90
were injured. No police officers were punished but five Papuan leaders
were charged with treason, according to the report.

HRW also cited that at least 15 other Papuans, including Filep Karma,
who has been imprisoned since December 2004, were convicted of treason
for carrying out peaceful political activities. Around 60 more people
throughout Indonesia, mostly activists from Maluku Islands, are also
imprisoned on charges related to peaceful acts of free expression.

Several of the prisoners have suffered from long-term illnesses,
exacerbated by poor medical care in prison, HRW noted.

“The Indonesian government’s jailing of people for peacefully
expressing their political views is an ugly stain on the country’s
human rights record,” Pearson said. “Indonesia’s reputation as a
rights-respecting democracy will be tarnished until all of these
prisoners are released.”

The watchdog pointed out that access to Papua in 2011 remained tightly
controlled. Few foreign journalists and human rights researchers could
visit independently without close monitoring of their activities.

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