1 May 2013

A call in Papua for unity in fight with Jakarta for self determination

1:49 pm on 1 May 2013

A jailed West Papuan leader has called for unity among the indigenous people of Indonesia's Papua region on the 50th anniversary of the transferral of the former Dutch New Guinea to Jakarta.

May 1st is traditionally marked with demonstrations by West Papuans who remain largely disillusioned with Indonesian rule since the coerced annexation of West Papua in 1963.

A series of peaceful demonstrations have been planned for today around the provinces of West Papua and Papua although civil society groups fear more violent responses from security forces.

However, Edison Waromi, who is serving a three-year jail term for his role in organising 2011's Third Papuan People's Congress where he was declared the Prime Minister of the National Federal Republic of West Papua, has called on West Papuans to unite.

Mr Waromi says that since 1963, hundreds of thousands of West Papuans have been murdered, slaughtered and imprisoned by Indonesia without a fair or peaceful resolution.

Although Indonesia's government denies that it has political prisoners in Papua, Mr Waromi is one of about 40 West Papuans understood to be incarcerated for their political views.

Indonesian civil society groups have compiled extensive details about these prisoners on a new website called Papuans Behind Bars.