10 Aug 2005

Papua activists dissuade supporters from raising independence banner

3:32 pm on 10 August 2005

Activists planning a rally for self-determination in the Indonesian province of Papua say they're not trying to provoke a confrontation by raising their independence flag.

Papuan leaders say they'll hand back the documents of Indonesia's 2001 Special Autonomy Law, sending them in packets back to Jakarta as part of a staged event on August the 15th in the regional capital, Jayapura.

The activists say they don't plan to raise their illegal banner, the Papuan flag, since it might incite a response from security forces.

John Ondawame of the Vanuatu-based Free Papua Movement claims Indonesia isn't a democracy, and therefore doesn't respect human rights.

"Indonesia is run by the military, so the democratic means nothing for Indonesia. Even in the autonomy law allow West Papuans to raise the Papuan flag as a cultural symbol."

Dr Ondawame says the Indonesian military already began retaliating when the Manokwari tribal council resolved in February to reject the Special Autonomy Law.

He claims the military has since boosted its presence in Papua, which he says threatens the local people.