West Papuan customary leaders Apolos Sewa, 53, Amandus Mirino, 56, Samuel Klasjok, 60, and Yohanes Goram, 53 are facing charges of treason under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, following a congregation to pray for the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua on the 28th of August.
The head of police at Sorong, Harry Goldenhard, confirmed the charges to Marni Cordell of the Guardian, saying the four had been arrested after the banned Morning Star flag was raised following the church service.
They were held and interrogated for more than 24 hours before being released on the condition of reporting twice weekly to the Sorong Police Station.
Ronny Kareni, a Freedom Flotilla organiser and West Papuan refugee based in Australia stated, “The arrest of four leaders outside a church is an infringment of religious practice and cultural expression. It shows Papuans live like prisoners in their own land and there is no space for democracy.”
“The latest arrests are just a continuation of the Indonesian Governments long strategy of arresting and killing cultural and political leaders. So many of our leaders are behind bars, including the leaders of the Federated Republic of West Papua and the West Papuan National Committee. It is clear from our people’s commitment to continue to express themselves that this strategy is failing, it will not resolve the problems. It only confirms the reason that our people struggle, the reason that the Freedom Flotilla is determined to continue its journey to West Papua” he continued.
According to the Asian Human Rights Commission least 77 West Papuans have been tried for treason under Article 106 since 2008 which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. According to TAPOL atleast 57 are confirmed to be imprisoned as prisoners of conscience across West Papua, which has been struggling to gain independence since Indonesia invaded in 1962.
Unlce Kevin Buzzacott denounced the latest charges “Wake up Indonesia your day is coming. The whole world is watching you. You’ll soon be in the international court. Let the trial begin…. We’ll see you in court. We’re calling on all other countries to act now and stop this. What sort of people are you America, and Australia? Stop supporting this by sponsoring and supplying the Indonesian military!”
Both Australia and America supply arms, training and funding to the Indonesian military.