15 March 2012

Human Rights Watch slams treason charges against Papuan activists

Leading human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, has criticised the Indonesian Government for allowing the conviction of five West Papuan activists claiming the prosecutions went against constitutional freedom of expression.

The five Papuan activists where arrested last October when Indonesian authorities violently shut down the Third Papuan People's Congress after a declaration of independence was read out. The attacks on the peaceful gathering resulted in at least three protesters being killed, at least 90 being injured and approximately 300 arrested.

Human Rights Watch takes no position on claims to self-determination in Papua, the organisation's media statement explained.

"Consistent with international law, however, Human Rights Watch supports the right of everyone, including independence supporters, to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal."

Human Rights Watch also criticized the lack of sanctions on the police officers allegedly involved in the crackdown and renewed its call for the Indonesian government to release all political prisoners and allow human rights organisations and foreign journalists unimpeded access to Papua.