13 Dec 2007

Papua human rights campaigner charged over SMS messages

2:33 pm on 13 December 2007

A Papuan human rights campaigner has been formally charged with insulting Indonesia's president in a series of mobile phone SMS text messages.

Sabar Iwanggin, who works for the human rights organisation Elsham, was arrested in Jayapura in October by Indonesian police and was held in police custody until this week when charges were laid.

He is now being transferred to the community prison in Abepura to await trial next year.

Elsham's Paula Makabori says the content of the SMS messages referred to the alleged involvement of Jakarta in a recent wave of reports of Papuans being food poisoned.

But she says Mr Iwanggin is being unfairly singled out for messages passed around thousands of Papuans.

"It's like: why don't those thousands of people be put into the jails together with Sabar? Because they all received the same SMS and for writing to their friends and families because of their concern about human rights in West Papua and the deteriorating situation over there."

Elsham's Paula Makabori