At the end of May 2013, there were at least 76 political prisoners in Papuan jails, according to Papuans Behind Bars, a collective project initiated by Papuan civil society groups. The number has almost doubled in just one month, showing an urgent deterioration of the situation in Papua. Political prisoners in Papua, one of the world’s most isolated regions, are often tortured, ill-treated, denied healthcare and denial of the right to a fair trial. The families of political prisoners often suffer discrimination and stigmatisation, and undergo economic hardship while the main breadwinners of the family are behind bars.
The vast majority of political prisoners have been arrested for their peaceful expression of political views. At least 18 people remain behind bars merely for raising the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence.
Let us rally and press for the immediate and unconditional release for these political prisoners. Share this petition to raise awareness about the situation in Papua and to highlight the threats faced by peaceful Papuan activists.
Why this is important
The government of Indonesia is clamping down on nationalism and the cry for freedom of the West Papuan people by charging political prisoners of treason and ‘conspiracy against the security of the state’, according to Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code. Political prisoners are kept in terrible conditions, repeatedly tortured and continuously intimidated. Many have died without being allowed access to basic health care.
The 1969 Act of Free Choice was far from the exercise of self-determination it was intended to be, with 1,025 Papuan representatives forced to vote to remain part of Indonesia under threats of violence and death. There is a huge and highly visible presence of Indonesian military in Papua, and the abuses they commit go largely unreported as Papua remains closed to foreign journalists and international NGOs. Powerful multinational corporations engage in highly non-transparent logging, mining and fishing activity, uprooting one of the world’s most diverse and valuable ecosystems.
In the short-term, this petition aims to press for the immediate and unconditional release of Papuan political prisoners. It also seeks to raise awareness about the situation and press for the immediate revision of the Criminal Code to repeal Indonesia’s repressive treason laws, according to Amnesty International’s recommendations.
Pedalling for Papua is dedicated to the immediate and unconditional release of West Papuan political prisoners, and also to ensure that their welfare is protected and and spirits remain high while behind bars. For more in depth ways to take action on behalf of these individuals, we invite you to visit Papuan Behind Bars. They’ve provided a great platform for supporting these unjustly imprisoned West Papuans – from calling the prisons and prisoners themselves to lobbying those with the authority to put an end to political imprisonment in this region.