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Demonstration to call for the release of Papuan political prisoners in Indonesia

7 March, 2014

On 2 April 2014, TAPOL will hold a demonstration outside the Indonesian embassy in London to protest the ongoing detention of over 70 political prisoners[1] in West Papua and to call for their immediate and unconditional release. Amnesty International UK, Survival International and the Free West Papua Campaign will also be at the demonstration.

We will stage a visual protest, where selected demonstrators will ‘stand-in’ for political prisoners. A ‘stand-in’ demonstrator will represent a political prisoner, and will be seated on the floor, handcuffed and mouth taped shut.  This will create the main narrative for the demonstration – to have the total number of political prisoners in Papua be immediately visualised. 76 prisoners represented by 76 demonstrators. Each ‘prisoner’ will be identified by namecards and when available, a photo.  Other demonstrators will be invited to surround the ‘prisoners’ with placards and signs to bring voice to the protest.

Join us in our call to the Indonesian government to respect freedom of expression in West Papua and to unconditionally and immediately release all Papuan political prisoners. Call on Her Majesty’s Government in the UK to urge the Indonesian government to comply with its international and national obligations to respect human rights.

According to data from Papuans Behind Bars, the number of political arrests more than doubled in 2013 as compared with the previous year, and reports of torture and ill-treatment of political detainees have also increased. This points to a significant deterioration in the environment for freedom of expression in West Papua. Indigenous Papuans continue to be arrested for peaceful activities such as raising the Papuan Morning Star flag or attending demonstrations and public events that express dissent. Often they are charged with treason or incitement which can carry lengthy prison sentences. Peaceful activists are often charged with criminal violence, backed by fabricated evidence and unreliable testimony. While many political prisoners are in jail as a result of their peaceful political activities, others just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Journalists and lawyers face coercion, intimidation and violence from security forces who enjoy wide impunity. West Papua still remains largely closed to foreign journalists, NGOs and international organisations, making it difficult to accurately report on violations as they take place.

Message from prisoner Dominikus Surabut to all 2 April demonstrators:

“My respectful greetings to you all. I can’t be with you in person today because I am in jail, but my soul and my spirit are with you. United and strong we will overcome.” 

We ask demonstrators not to fly Morning Star flags at the demonstration, to help keep the media focus on freedom of expression and Papuan political prisoner release.

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[1] There were at least 76 political prisoners at the end of February 2014 as reported by Papuans Behind Bars. The exact number of political prisoners in Papua changes from month to month.