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Protesters shot, radio host arrested in West Papua, Indonesia

Children display the banned Morning Star flag, a symbol of West Papuan independence, November 2012
Children display the banned Morning Star flag, a symbol of West Papuan independence, November 2012

Demotix/Sally Collister

UPDATE from PFF: Indonesia should release West Papua journalist immediately (27 May 2013)

Shooting peaceful protesters in West Papua and arresting a radio host for comments made on a talkback show are clear attacks on human rights by Indonesia, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

"Indonesia is showing little progress towards answering serious and long-running concerns about human rights abuses in West Papua," says PFF Chair Titi Gabi.

In this case, the right to peaceful protest as a freedom of expression was again denied through the use of lethal force and arbitrary arrest."

Two protesters were reportedly killed and three seriously wounded in the district of Sorong as police and security forces cracked down on peaceful protests on 1 May across West Papua, marking 50 years of Indonesian rule.

An unconfirmed number were arrested.

In a separate incident since then, police also arrested a radio journalist hosting a talkback show where callers criticised the performance of a local official.

PFF supports comments from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who expressed serious concerns over the crackdown on mass demonstrations across Papua.

In a UN statement, Pillay said: "These latest incidents are unfortunate examples of the ongoing suppression of freedom of expression and excessive use of force in Papua. I urge the government of Indonesia to allow peaceful protest and hold accountable those involved in abuses."

Her office reported receiving 26 alerts since May 2012 on human rights abuses, including 46 killings and cases of torture, "many" involving state officials.

PFF also supports comments reported from Independent Journalist Alliance, AJI, that any complaints against journalists should be handled under the press laws.

PFF co-Chair Monica Miller praised work by AJI and civil society networks in exposing continual human rights abuses in West Papua.

"Without their calm work in often hostile environments, the outside world may never get to hear of historic and ongoing killings, torture and arrest."

"These latest incidents illustrate the dismal failure by authorities in Jakarta to ensure constitutional equality across the republic."

PFF calls for the withdrawal of charges against the journalist, and his immediate release.

PFF also calls for an independent review of the process by which security forces deal with freedoms of expression, including peaceful protests.

What other IFEX members are saying

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