30 Jan 2012

Indonesia urged to drop charges against Papuans over Congress expressions

4:24 pm on 30 January 2012

Human Rights Watch has called for Indonesia's government to drop charges against five Papuan activists being prosecuted for expressing their political views.

The treason trial of five leaders of the Papuan People's Congress last October begins today in the district court in Papua's provincial capital Jayapura.

Indonesian soldiers and police forcibly dispersed the Congress, a major discussion about Papuan self-determination, resulting in at least three reported deaths and dozens of disappearances.

Following the incident, eight police officers were given written warnings for committing a disciplinary infraction.

However the five Papuans on trial for treason, including the man selected by Congress delegates as President of a newly declared independent West Papua state, face heavy prison sentences.

Human Rights Watch says that under international law, Indonesia should support the right of everyone to express their political views peacefully.