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Two Papua Pro-independence Activists Arrested

June 9, 2012

ANP/AFP
June 8, 2012

Indonesia Arrests Two Pro-independence Activists

Two pro-independence activists were arrested in Indonesia’s restive
Papua province for holding "anarchic protests", national police said
Friday.

One of those arrested was Bukhtar Tabuni, head of the West Papua
National Committee, who had left prison last year after serving three
years for organising a 2008 rally, national police spokesman Boy Rafli
Amar said.

Tabuni was arrested on Thursday in the city of Abepura along with
another activist, Jefri Wandepbud.

"The men were arrested in relation with anarchic protests" by the West
Papua National Committee, Amar said.

He said the group is suspected of organising protests in recent months
that have left shops, public facilities and a university campus in
several Papuan cities badly vandalised.

Pro-independence rallies and displaying separatist symbols are
considered treason in Indonesia, and protests in Papua have ended in
bloody clashes with police.

The West Papua National Committee denied it was responsible for any
violence and said on its website that the police were using the group
as "a scapegoat".

Tabuni was jailed in 2008 for organising a protest to support the
International Parliamentarians for West Papua, a pro-independence
pressure group of international lawmakers launched in the British
parliament that year.

Indonesia in 1969 took control of the Papua region — a former Dutch
colony on the western half of New Guinea island — after a vote widely
seen as a sham.

Jakarta keeps a tight grip on Papua, with the military regularly
clashing with locals. Foreign journalists are restricted from
reporting freely in the region.

More than 170 people are imprisoned in Indonesia for promoting
separatism, most of them from Papua or the Maluku islands in eastern
Indonesia, according to Human Rights Watch.

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