22 Feb 2007

Human Rights Watch says Indonesia keeps political prisoners in Papua

3:09 pm on 22 February 2007

A human rights watchdog organisation says political activists in Indonesia's Papua province are continuing to be imprisoned.

Papua became part of Indonesia in the 1960's after a controversial referendum, and has been the site of continuing political protests against Indonesian control.

A new report from Human Rights Watch says at least 18 political prisoners are being held, and the report researcher Charmain Mohamed says there may be many more.

"We are certainly confident that there are many more and research clearly shows there are these severe restrictions on free expression, assembly and association that have most visibly manifested themselves in the imprisonment of people that are also causing a climate where people aren't able to speak their minds freely."

Human Rights Watch says the Indonesian government should release all political prisoners, and cease prosecuting local people for non-violent political activism.