Australian solidarity group condemns crackdown on West Papua free speech

Asia Pacific Report An Australian solidarity group for West Papuan self-determination has condemned Indonesian authorities over the “unjust” clampdown on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in the Melanesian region. In a statement yesterday, the Australia West Papuan Association (AWPA) said arrests and intimidation of activists was intended to stop any activity that “might

Asia Pacific Report

An Australian solidarity group for West Papuan self-determination has condemned Indonesian authorities over the “unjust” clampdown on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in the Melanesian region.

In a statement yesterday, the Australia West Papuan Association (AWPA) said arrests and intimidation of activists was intended to stop any activity that “might bring attention to the international community of the injustices suffered by the West Papuan people”.

AWPA spokesperson Joe Collins referred to a court case involving allegations of “treason” last week and other recent attempts to stifle free speech.

“On Tuesday, 28 March, in the Jayapura District Court, Yoseph Ernesto Matuan, who is a student of the University of Science and Technology Jayapura (USTJ), was charged with treason,” the AWPA statement said.

Matuan had called for a referendum and raised the banned Morning Star flag of independence at a rally in November 2022.

Two other USTJ students will also undergo an indictment hearing this Wednesday, April 3.

The November 2022 rally had been held to commemorate the 22th anniversary of the assassination of Papua Presidium Council leader Theys Hiyo Eluay on the 10 November 2001.

“During the rally police fired tear gas, beat students and lecturers, and arrested a number of students who gave speeches and raised the Morning Star flag,” Collins said.

“So much for Articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which state:

Article 19
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.

and

Article 20
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

“Jakarta seems to believe that these articles do not apply to the West Papuan people,” Collins said.

“And, in another outrageous act, police arrested 20 West Papuans who were undertaking fund raising activities for victims of the two cyclones which hit Vanuatu at the beginning of March.

“The fund-raising activities were forced to be disbanded by the security forces and although those arrested were eventually released, the intimidation of activists is to stop any activity that might bring attention to the international community of the injustices suffered by the West Papuan people — even though in this case it was a humanitarian act, not a political protest,” he said.

Indonesian police arrest West Papuan protesters
Indonesian police arrest West Papuan protesters . . . 20 students were seized at the fundraising rally for Vanuatu. Image: UWPA

This post was originally published on Asia Pacific Report.


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APR editor | radiofree.asia (2024-04-23T14:02:16+00:00) » Australian solidarity group condemns crackdown on West Papua free speech. Retrieved from https://radiofree.asia/2024/04/01/australian-solidarity-group-condemns-crackdown-on-west-papua-free-speech/.
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