Filep Karma, Indonesia - Write for Rights 2011

November 15, 2011

Filep Karma, Indonesia - Write for Rights 2011

Former civil servant Filep Karma is currently serving 15 years in prison after taking part in an annual ceremony at which a Papuan independence flag was raised. He was charged and convicted of rebellion on 26 May 2005. Filep Karma is in prison for exercising his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience.

Filep Karma was among approximately 200 people who took part in a peaceful ceremony in Abepura, Papua Province on 1 December 2004. During the event the "Morning Star" flag -- a banned symbol of Papuan independence -- was raised. Police responded by advancing on the crowd, firing warning shots and beating people with batons.

Filep Karma was arrested at the site of the ceremony. He was reportedly beaten as he was transported to the police station. A group of about 20 people were later arrested at the police station when they went to protest Filep Karma's arrest. Most of the group was subsequently released, however student activist Yusak Pakage -- who had also taken part in the ceremony -- was detained. The two men were later charged with rebellion under Articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesia Criminal Code. They were also charged with expressing hostility or hatred towards the state under Article 154 of the Indonesia Criminal Code (Article since repealed). On 26 May 2005 Filep Karma was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment and Yusak Pakage to 10 years. Their sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court on 27 October 2005. Yusak Pakage was released on 7 July 2010 after receiving a presidential pardon.

Filep Karma is known to have been ill-treated in detention and on 28 April 2008 was beaten by prison guards in Abepura prison, Papua Province. He reported the beating to the police, but it is unclear whether any investigation was launched.

See video