21 Feb 2012

West Papuan leader on trial stands firm by declaration

9:17 pm on 21 February 2012

Supporters of the man claiming to be president of an independent state of West Papua, say Indonesian police and soldiers have failed in attempts to intimidate him.

Forkorus Yaboisembut is standing trial, with four others, for treason, after declaring independence from Jakarta during last October's Papuan People's Congress.

A member of Mr Yaboisembut's staff, Yoab Syatfle, says late last week armed police and soldiers came to the men's cell in Abepura prison to encourage them to withdraw the independence claim.

But he says Mr Yaboisembut rejected the overtures.

"But Forkorus says 'No, this is our right. Papua has a right to independence, like Indonesia. So that is why I [Forkorus Yaboisembut] never change my mind. We never change our minds, we never change the declaration of independence. We already declare that West Papua independent, so I am the leader, the president, on behalf of my people.'"

Yoab Syatfle, a spokesperson for the man claiming to be president of an independent West Papua, Forkorus Yaboisembut.