17 Feb 2012

International focus on Indonesia over high profile trial in Papua - academic

5:56 pm on 17 February 2012

The treason trial of five Papuan leaders arrested at last October's Third Papuan People's Congress continues today in Jayapura with witnesses for the prosecution to be heard.

The five were charged with "makar" or treason after they raised the outlawed Papuan 'Morning Star' flag and declared an independent state of West Papua.

Jim Elmslie of Sydney University's West Papua Project says there is a lot of interest in the trial.

He says this is partly because the military officers who broke up the Congress with a brutal crackdown which left three dead and dozens injured, went largely unpunished.

"It's going to become a massive trial because the people who've been charged with treason haven't really broken Indonesian law which allows for the right to freedom of expression. But certainly this is a case that is attracting the attention of observers all over the world as a kind of litmus test of what's going on there (in Indonesia's Papua region)."

Jim Elmslie