Rabu, 07 Desember 2011

Free Imprisoned Indonesian Activist, Amnesty International Says

Free Imprisoned Indonesian Activists, Amnesty Says
Jakarta Globe | December 07, 2011

Representatives from Amnesty International met with the coordinating minister for legal, political and security affairs on Tuesday, urging him to free political prisoners incarcerated for peacefully expressing their views.

At least 90 people are in prison in Papua and Maluku for peaceful pro-independence activities, including Filep Karma, a Papuan independence leader currently serving a 15-year sentence in Abepura, Papua. Filep’s case has received special attention by the human rights group.

“The Indonesian government should free all those who are detained in Papua and Maluku for peacefully expressing their views, including through raising or waving the prohibited pro-independence flags, and distinguish between peaceful and violent political activists,” Amnesty said in a statement.

On Dec. 1, 2004, Filep organized a peaceful demonstration in Abepura in which the banned Morning Star flag was raised. Filep was subsequently sentenced in May 2005 for treason and stoking unrest.

Washington-based Freedom Now said Filep, 51, would become one of 13 political prisoners around the world for whom it was currently campaigning, joining the likes of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. The organization is also known for having worked for the release of now-free Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

Amnesty said the government had the duty and the right to maintain public order, but in some cases the restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Indonesia has ratified.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently initiated discussions with Papuan activists and established a special task force to enhance economic development in Papua.

Papua and its neighboring province, West Papua, have enjoyed more economic independence under the 2001 Special Autonomy Law, but the absence of implementing regulations have been blamed for rampant corruption and widespread poverty.

Amnesty said it supported Indonesia’s efforts to implement special autonomy but stressed the need to set up a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate cases of human rights violations that had gone on since Indonesia annexed Papua in the 1960s.

The minister, Djoko Suyanto, has expressed the government’s commitment to ensure accountability for human rights abuses committed by security forces.

However, Amnesty criticized the use of lenient administrative penalties and closed-door trials in response to rights violations involving members of the security forces.

This year, security forces have been criticized for using excessive force during the disbanding of the Papuan People’s Congress in Abepura on Oct. 19.

The National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said at least six congress participants died during the brutal crackdown and hundreds more were injured or subject to degrading treatment.

The National Police punished seven officers with between seven to 14 days detention and reprimanded 10 others.

Amnesty called on the minister to allow international observers, nongovernmental organizations and journalists unrestricted and ongoing access to the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

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