Jul 22, 2008

West Papua: Indonesia arrests six for treason over Papuan flag

Sample ImageSix have been arrested after hoisting the Morning Star flag in West Papua.

Below is an article published by Straits Times :

JAYAPURA, (Indonesia) - INDONESIAN police have arrested six people on charges of treason after a group of Papuans hoisted a flag in West Papua province at the weekend, a police official said on Monday [22 July 2008].

The group raised the outlawed Morning Star flag, the symbol of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), early on Saturday [19 July 2008] in Fakfak, West Papua province, 300 km from the provincial capital Manokwari.

After questioning 49 people, six suspects were arrested on charges of treason, while three others were arrested for possessing machetes, Mr Agus Riyanto, a Papua police spokesman said.

Treason can carry a maximum sentence of life.

The suspects included former political detainees previously arrested for hoisting the separatist flag in 1982, Mr Riyanto added.

The police also confiscated a 2 metre-wide flag, several documents in Papuan and knives from the group.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has promised to end decades of conflict in Papua and speed up development but critics say rights abuses continue and little has been achieved under the 2001 special autonomy agreement for Papua.

Independence activists in Papua have waged a campaign for nearly 40 years to break away from Indonesia, while a low-level armed rebellion has also simmered for decades.

Indonesia has denied any systematic violations in Papua, although human rights groups have alleged that security services in the area have routinely abused their powers. -- REUTERS