Amnesty International calls for release of Manokwari Eleven in Papua PDF Afdrukken

Posted at 04:38 on 15 January, 2009 UTC

Amnesty International has called for the release of 11 West Papuan protestors facing years in prison in Indonesia for displaying the banned Morning Star flag.

The 11 activists were arrested in March 2008 for hoisting the flag, which is a symbol of Papuan independence, during a series of peaceful public demonstrations.

The District Court in Manokwari initially sentenced the activists to eight month’s imprisonment.

On appeal, the High Court this month upheld the guilty verdict and extended their sentences.

Prominent activist Jack Wanggai was sentenced to three-and-a-half years and 10 others were given three year sentences.

Amnesty’s New Zealand spokesperson Margaret Taylor says imprisoning peaceful flag-raisers in Papua is a step back for Indonesia which has begun to show respect for freedom of expression in recent years.

“I think they’re keen to prevent a groundswell of interests and actions on behalf of such people and the indigenous people themselves are seeking greater autonomy or independence... then the Indonesian would wish to stamp that down because Papua is a very resource-rich part of the country and so they want to keep those resources for themselves.”

Margaret Taylor of Amnesty International