West Papua: Men released but they still face treason charges

Freedom Flotilla News Update - The four cultural leaders that were arrested in Sorong on Wednesday for raising the 'morning star' flag of West Papua, have been released but are to be charged with Treason ... pressure now needs to be put on the Public Prosecutor to ensure this does not happen!

West Papuans arrested at prayer session for Freedom Flotilla

Indonesian police charge four with treason after pro-independence 'morning star' flag is raised

West Papua - 'morning star' flag
West Papuan Amos Wainggai, who is sailing with the Freedom Flotilla, holds the 'morning star' flag, which is banned in Indonesia.

(Photo: Cleo Mary Fraser/AAP)

Apolos Sewa, one of the four men arrested for holding up the 'Morning Star' flag at a Church last week. Image captured in the Police interrogation room.

(Photo: West Papua Media)

Marni Cordell 30 August 2013

Four West Papuan community leaders who attended a church meeting to pray for activists aboard the West Papua Freedom Flotilla are to be charged with treason and could be given long jail terms, it emerged on Friday.

The flotilla is sailing from Australia to draw attention to human rights abuses under Indonesian rule and plans to land in the coming weeks in the West Papuan town of Merauke.

West Papuans Apolos Sewa, 53, Amandus Mirino, 56, Samuel Klasjok, 60, and Yohanes Goram, 53, were detained and interrogated for 24 hours in the Sorong police station before being released at 10pm on Thursday night.

"On Wednesday we had a mass prayer session to welcome the Freedom Flotilla from Australia," Goram told Guardian Australia on the phone from Sorong in West Papua's west. "The police arrived and arrested us at about 6pm."

Goram said the group had been questioned about their activities and asked whether they wanted independence from Indonesia.

"We said, 'yes, we do.' We told them, 'We will struggle for independence from Indonesia because we are different from you, and because of the history between our people. More than 200,000 of our people have been killed by your military in the last 50 years, and ours are the poorest provinces in Indonesia.' "

The four were told by police that they would be charged with treason but were released on condition that they report to Sorong police station twice a week.

The charge carries a long jail term in Indonesia.

Goram said the group had been treated well during their 24-hour detention. "I think they treated us kindly because of international attention," he said.

The head of police at Sorong, Harry Goldenhard, confirmed the charges to Guardian Australia and said the four had been arrested after the banned "morning star" flag was raised following the church service.

"We asked that this activity be stopped and requested that those responsible go to the police headquarters, where they would be asked to give an explanation," he said on the phone from Sorong.

"After a 24-hour investigation we determined that the suspects … are subject to articles 106 and 110 of the criminal code on treason."

The case will be referred to the public prosecutor.