21 Mar 2012

Media watchdog calls for imprisoned Papuan leaders to be freed

3:08 pm on 21 March 2012

The Pacific Freedom Forum is supporting the call by Human Rights Watch and others for the group of five West Papuan leaders jailed on treason charges to be freed.

The five were jailed last Friday for three years after being found guilty of treason following the Third Papuan Peoples Congress in Jayapura in October last year.

During that event they had declared West Papua's independence from Indonesia.

The Forum's chair, Titi Gabi, speaking from Papua New Guinea where she says many West Papuans now live, says there is no treason in peaceful expressions of freedom.

"Today I think we can do this a lot better and this freedom of expression and freedom of speech should be allowed to these people to freely express themselves without being shot, or beaten or - you know, enough, that's got to stop some way, and people need to get up and condemn it."

Titi Gabi says the Pacific Islands News Association, as the premier media body in the Pacific, must speak out on the treatment of the Papuans.