3 Dec 2002

Amnesty International concerned about safety of 16 Papuans arrested for flying Morning Star flag

4:43 pm on 3 December 2002

Amnesty International says it'll continue to lobby for the release of 16 Papuans still detained for flying the separatist Morning Star flag in the Indonesian province during the weekend.

It says the 16 were part of a group of 42 arrested for flying the flag during the 41st anniversary of Papua's attempt at independence in 1961.

Andrew Beswick, from Amnesty International - Australia, says the police have now released 26 people but there are concerns about the safety of the 16 men still in custody.

"People have been arrested for peacefully expressing their political views and that's obviously a concern to us. There's a history of people being held in incommunicado detention in situations where they're likely to be ill treated by the police during interrorigation, possibly even torture so our main concern at the moment is that they're released as soon as possible."

Andrew Beswick, Amnesty International, Australia

Last week, the Papua Presidium Council urged that the Morning Star flag not be flown after the Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri warned that measured action would be taken against those who did so.