West Papuan independence rally organisers detained

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 December, 2013, 11:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 3:31am


Three organisers of a West Papuan independence rally in Port Moresby have been taken into custody, with the governor of the Papua New Guinean capital accusing the country's government of bowing to pressure from Indonesia.

West Papua, which neighbours Papua New Guinea, is a province of Indonesia.

We have broken the silence. We won’t be intimidated any more

PNG nationals Fred Mambrasar, Tony Fofoe and Patrick Kaiku said they were interviewed by police on Sunday after taking part in a march to mark what they said was West Papuan national day. The event culminated in the raising of the banned West Papuan morning star flag.

Port Moresby governor Powes Parkop said the three were targeted "due to undue pressure from the Indonesian government". The West Papuan independence movement does not recognise the government in Jakarta.

"Clearly Indonesia has put pressure on the [PNG] government, but we are an independent nation," Parkop said.

"Our constitution allows us freedom of expression and assembly. They will not intimidate us any more."

Mambrasar said he expected they would be charged with unlawful assembly despite the event being endorsed and approved by the municipal government, led by Parkop.

Parkop addressed the rally crowd of about 1,000 people. "We have broken the silence. We won't be intimidated any more. I congratulate you all for turning up," he said.

"This is our ancestral land. The morning star flag deserves to be raised across our ancestral land. This will become a worldwide movement that cannot be stopped. I want to tell the Indonesian government that their claim to West Papua is based on fraud and lies."

West Papuan activist Benny Wenda and Australian lawyer Jennifer Robinson, who attended the event, said they had been threatened with arrest and deportation if they took part in "political activities" while in PNG on visitor visas.

Parkop said he intervened to make sure they were not arrested. "I have advised [PNG] immigration that Benny and Jennifer are here at my invitation," he said.