25 Jul 2008

Human Rights Watch calls for release of Papuan flag raisers

1:45 pm on 25 July 2008

The international watchdog group, Human Rights Watch, has called on the Indonesian Government to immediately release more than a dozen Papuans detained for raising the Papuan Morning Star flag in Fakfak in Papua.

The organisation also called on Jakarta to launch an investigation into the excessive use of force by the Indonesian police, who beat and kicked the activists during the arrests earlier this month.

The deputy Asian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, says once again the Indonesian authorities have stopped Papuans from peacefully expressing their political views.

She says the police should not resort to violence to suppress political activism.

Six people have been charged with subversion for threatening the state by raising a separatist flag.

Such a crime is punishable by life imprisonment in Indonesia and Ms Pearson says this is an outrageous response to the peaceful political act of raising a flag.