17 Aug 2015

Jailed Papuan activist rejects Indonesia's freedom offer

1:38 pm on 17 August 2015
West Papuan independence activist Filep Karma.

West Papuan independence activist Filep Karma. Photo: Eben Kirksey

The jailed West Papua political activist, Filep Karma, has rejected an offer of remission on Indonesia's National Independence Day, saying he will only accept an unconditional release.

Mr Karma is serving a 15-year jail sentence for treason after he raising the banned Morning Star flag at a political rally in 2004.

The former public servant was told he could be freed from Abepura prison on Indonesia's Independence Day, August 17, due to usual remissions in a sentence for good behaviour.

But Mr Karma rejected the package of release on the national holiday.

He said he would be happy to walk free the day after, if his release was "unconditional".

In an open letter from his cell at Abepura prison, Karma said he did not commit any crime by raising the flag, and will continue to campaign for West Papuan independence.

In 2011, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that Filep Karma's detention was arbitrary because he was imprisoned for the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Karma has rejected several clemency offers by Indonesia in the past in a defiant stand against Indonesian rule in Papua region.

One of these offers came during a visit to Papua province in May by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo who presided over a ceremony to formalise the release of five Papuan political prisoners.

However a subsequent plan by the president to pardon up to 90 political prisoners in Papua region was rejected by Indonesia's House of Representatives.