11 Aug 2008

Muslim group protests in Jakarta against US support for Papuan activists

11:32 am on 11 August 2008

A hardline Muslim group has staged a rally outside the US embassy in Jakarta to protest against a call by Washington for the release of two Papuan activists.

Some 100 members of Hizbut Tahrir massed outside the embassy with banners reading: "We are against US intervention in Papua."

The demonstration came after some 40 members of the US Congress sent a letter to the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urging an "immediate and unconditional" release of the two activists on human rights grounds.

Philep Karma and Yusac Pakage were sentenced to 15 and 10 years, respectively, in 2005 after a court found them guilty of treason for raising an outlawed separatist flag.

A spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia said the US Congress letter was obvious evidence that the US had given their support to Papua separatist group who want to be independent from Indonesia.

The group also urged Yudhoyono to reject US intervention and to stick to the government's stance of eradicating separatist movements in the country.