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ETAN/WPAT: Letter to Secretary Rice on recent arrests in W Papua

PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202

March 25, 2008

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
U.S. State Department
2201 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice,

On March 13, Indonesian police arrested twelve people in Manokwari, West Papua, during a demonstration against a 2007 law banning the display of separatist symbols, including the Morning Star Flag. The demonstrations also called for a referendum regarding the political status of West Papua and expressed opposition to the 2001 Special Autonomy Law that they claim has failed to bring improvement to the lives of Papuan people. As Human Right Watch has reported, one of the twelve arrested in Manokwari is reported to be a 16-year-old boy. As of March 25 there were reports that he had been released from custody but he may still face charges. On March 19, Indonesian security officials in Jayapura arrested four more Papuans in a similarly peaceful demonstration that opposed the same 2007 law. On March 25, security authorities arrested Eli Kaiway in connection with the peaceful demonstrations of March 13 and 19.

The 17 individuals appear likely to face trial for breaching Regulation 77/2007 and may also be charged with makar, which translates into English as "rebellion." In the past, Papuan activists openly supporting separatism have been sentenced to a 20-year prison term for the peaceful expression of their political views.

Indonesia's arrest and detention of peaceful activists violates the internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression and assembly as set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia ratified in February 2006.

The West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) condemn Indonesia's violation of the right of peaceful self-expression and urges the U.S. Government to press the Indonesian government to drop all charges against these peaceful demonstrators. WPAT and ETAN, recalling the recent UN reporting regarding severe mistreatment of those detained by Indonesian security officials, also urge that the U.S. Government communicate to the Indonesian government its concern for the welfare of these detainees pending their release.

Protester under arrest. Cenderawasih Post.

The names of the detained are as follows: Arrested on March 13 in Manokwari were: Yakobus Wanggai (Jack Wanggai), Frans Kareth, Markus Solig Umpus, Edy Ayorbaba, Daniel Sakwatorey, Marthinus Luther, Noak AP, George Risyard Ayorbaba, Amd T, Ariel Werimon, Leonardus Decky Bame and Silas Carlos Teves May (16 years old).

Arrested on March 19 in Jayapura were: Zakarias Horota, Elias Weah, Ester Dolorus Tapnesa, and Abu Mari.

According to credible reporting by international monitors, Papuan and other journalists who have sought to monitor developments associated with these demonstrations and other recent peaceful demonstrations have faced intimidation and interference from security forces. This security force conduct violates Indonesia's commitments under international human rights instruments to which it is party. WPAT and ETAN urge the U.S. Government to remind the Indonesian Government of its obligations in this regard as well.


West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT)

East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

see also TAPOL: Statement on Crackdown in West Papua against Flag-raisers

Read the West Papua Report (monthly news and analysis)





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