An Australian advocacy group for West Papua self-determination has condemned yesterday’s arrest by Indonesian security forces of 10 West Papua National Committee (KNPB) members.
The activists were arrested “simply because they were handing out leaflets informing people of a rally to be held today” to show support for West Papua becoming a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), said the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) in a statement.
The security forces detained the activists and took them to the Jayapura Resort Police station in Sentani for questioning.
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They were eventually released after being detained for eight hours.
It was reported that the police were threatening the KNPB activists and asking therm to make a statement not to carry out West Papuan independence struggle activities.
“Yet again we have peaceful activists arrested for simply handing out leaflets about an upcoming rally, which is their right to do under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Joe Collins of AWPA:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
“Hopefully any rallies that take place today will be allowed to go ahead peacefully and there will not be a repeat of the brutal crackdowns that occurred at other peaceful rallies in the past.”
The Melanesian Spearhead Group is due to meet in Port Vila, Vanuatu, this month, although the dates have not yet been announced.
The MSG consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) of Kanaky (New Caledonia).
West Papua has observer status while Indonesia has associate membership and Jakarta has been conducting an intense diplomatic lobbying with MSG members over recent months.
The United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) has applied for full membership.