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Daughter pleads for the release of West Papuan political prisoner father

West Papua political prisoner

Audryne with her father when he was still a free man. Image: etan.org

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Daniel Drageset

The daughter of a political prisoner in West Papua has sent a letter to the Indonesian president appealing for the release of all political prisoners in the Indonesian-ruled region.

Audryne Karma’s father Filep Karma was arrested on December 1, 2004, after participating in a peaceful ceremony to commemorate the 1962 declaration of West Papuan independence, where the participants raised the Morning Star flag.

In her letter addressed to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Audryne told the president what happened the day her father was arrested.

“The police responded by beating and shooting the people who came. Approximately four people were injured, including my father. For this case, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of ‘treason’.”

In the letter she told the president the last words her father told her before leaving for the ceremony almost nine years ago.

“Tomorrow, father will go to raise a flag and will make a brief speech in Abepura Trikora square. Both of you take care. If I am arrested by the police do not worry, do not visit father at the police station. Just stay home and go to school as usual. The Lord Jesus protects us all.”

Beaten and stomped 
According to the NGO Amnesty International, the police forced an end to the ceremony, arrested Filep Karma and beat and stomped on him during the transport to the police station.

The NGO considers Filep Karma to be a prisoner of conscience “who has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression”.

Several reports from human rights organisations have pointed to the presence of political prisoners in West Papua, but Indonesia has denied the existence of such prisoners in the region.

karma

Photo of Filep Karma while in jail. Image: inside.org.au

In 2011, a United Nations delegation concluded Filep Karma had not received a fair trial and called on the Indonesian government to release him.

According to Audryne Karma’s letter to the Indonesian president, her father has suffered “severe health problems” because of malnutrition and poor sanitation in the Abepura prison in Jayapura, West Papua.

The political prisoner has had severe prostate pain and chronic inflammation of the colon, according to his daughter.

‘Saddened and disappointed’
Audryne Karma said she was “disappointed” the Indonesian authorities had not acted, even after international pressure from various organisations.

“As the daughter of Filep Karma, I am saddened and disappointed at the government for the severe punishment imposed on my father. Our family suffers psychological pain caused by his imprisonment.”

In the letter, Audryne Karma not only called for the release of her father, but for all political prisoners in West Papua.

“To date there are more than 70 political prisoners in Papua. Like my father, they voice their political aspirations peacefully, without violence.

“As an Indonesian citizen, who is legally free to voice opinions, I implore President SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] to instruct the government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners in Papua.”

An online petition supporting Audryne Karma’s call to release her father and all other political prisoners in West Papua was recently started.

Read the entire letter

Watch the speech that led to Filep Karma’s arrest in 2004

Papua website highlights harsh Indonesian rule of political prisoners

Daniel Drageset is the Pacific Scoop internship editor.