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West Papuan political prisoners freed but vow to keep lobbying for independence

Forkorus Yaboisembut at Jayapura District Court

The “president” of Papua, Forkorus Yaboisembut, at Jayapura District Court in 2012. Photo: Jakarta Globe / Antara

Pacific Scoop: Report – By Katharina R. Lestari in Jakarta

Five West Papuan political prisoners have been released after serving three-year sentences in a Jayapura prison.

The activists were arrested in October 2011 for reading out a “declaration of independence” from Indonesia. They were released yesterday.

“Those released included prominent tribal leader Forkorus Yaboisembut, who was declared “president of the Federal Republic of West Papua” during the 2011 declaration of independence event; Edison Waromi, who was declared prime minister; as well as Agustinus Sanany Kraar, Selpius Bobii and Dominikus Sorbet. Forkorus Yaboisembut, now age 59, told local media that the group had only been released because they had served their full jail terms.

“We will keep working together in the future until there is recognition [of our independence] and a transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of West Papua,” he said.

In 1969, Indonesia held a referendum known as the ‘Act of Free Choice’, during which a vote was held and it was subsequently announced that the population had decided to relinquish West Papua’s sovereignty in favor of Indonesian citizenship.

Rights monitors and West Papuan activists claim that the referendum was rigged and have since agitated for a re-vote. However, any political activities aimed at independence have been met with swift punishment from the Indonesian government.

Earlier this month, six activists from the National Committee for West Papua were reportedly arrested and beaten for distributing leaflets calling on the West Papuan people to boycott the presidential election.

Fr Neles Kebadabi Tebay, who is a rector of Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, told ucanews.com that the activists could face re-arrest if they continue agitating for independence. “I, however, think that such arrests won’t solve the problem. The government of Indonesia and representatives of Papuans must sit together in a dialogue,” Fr Neles added.

Source: UCA News

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, 23. July 2014, 1:43

    Please read the true history of West Papua and use that to help, this was the American plan for UN trusteeship http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v23/d160
    This was the decision that made West Papua an international issue, General Assembly resolution 1752, http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/17/ares17.htm
    This is the international law saying our governments must promote the freedom of trust territories, article 76 http://un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter12.shtml

    One option may be to call for the government or for Ban Ki-moon to put General Assembly resolution 1752 on the agenda of the Trusteeship Council so it can ask the ICJ if West Papua should be on the public list of trust territories.