11 Jul 2008

West Papuan demonstration in Canberra later today

9:57 am on 11 July 2008

Australia's West Papuan community is in Canberra today to appeal to both the Indonesian Government and the Australian Prime Minister over the case of 12 students who remain imprisoned in Papua.

The students were imprisoned in March after raising the banned Papuan Morning Star flag during peaceful demonstrations in Jayapura and Manokwari in March.

Their demonstrations focused on a presidential decree making certain symbols like the Morning Star flag illegal.

16 participating Papuan students were arrested following the demonstrations.

Four students were released, but the political trials of the remaining 12 are scheduled to begin this month.

The expected sentence for raising the flag is 20 years behind bars.

Church officials and human rights observers have reported that the 12 who remain in prison are detained in appalling conditions, which lack basic amenities.

The detainees are reportedly subject to ongoing abuse and torture, while observers hold serious concerns for their health and wellbeing.

Following the demonstration outside the Indonesian Embassy, representatives will walk to Parliament and present the Australian Prime Minister with a letter seeking his diplomatic support for securing fair treatment for the detainees.