18 Jan 2008

Morning Star flag ban stands, says Papua Governor

2:48 pm on 18 January 2008

The Governor of Indonesia's Papua says the province must uphold a newly issued government regulation that bans the use of separatist attributes as regional symbols.

The Cenderawasih Post reports that Barnabas Suebu says the ban on the use of flags like the Morning Star is in line with Papua's status as part of the unitary state of Indonesia.

The provincial government and legislature will discuss a more suitable regional symbol than the Morning Star, which is associated with Free Papua Movement rebels.

This week, police in the provincial capital Jayapura arrested two women who were trading souvenirs carrying the Morning Star logo.

They were released after being told of the ban.

Later on, a group of women street vendors rallied at the provincial legislature to protest against the ban.

In 2005, two Papuans, former public servant Filep Karma and student Yusak Pakage, were handed prison sentences of 15 and 10 years respectively after raising the Morning Star flag.