15 Apr 2008

Activists rounded up across Indonesia's Papua province over March demonstrations

10:52 am on 15 April 2008

An activist for the Free West Papua Movement says Indonesian police continue to round up Papuans linked to a series of demonstrations against Special Autonomy status last month.

Nick Chesterfield says at least 70 Papuans have been detained for their involvement in the demonstrations in several main towns of Papua and West Papua provinces.

In Manokwari, eleven activists are being held on charges of rebellion and subversion, for raising the outlawed Morning Star Flag during their peaceful rally.

Mr Chesterfield is concerned for the safety of the activists who he calls political prisoners.

He says contrary to Indonesian law, the detainees are being treated not as political prisoners but as common criminals, in appalling conditions.

"And the people being rounded up are obviously the people who've been involved in these demonstrations or, in the police view, may be involved. Quite regularly families and extended families of activists have been targetted as well. But we have to remember that this is ongoing, this is always the condition in West Papua. The only difference now is that there's international attention on what's happening."

Nick Chesterfield.