On December 1 2004, Filep Karma committed an act of simple courage. In commemoration of the 1962 declaration of Papuan independence, the prominent rights activist participated in a peaceful ceremony with hundreds of other members of Indonesia’s Papuan population. Exercising his right to freedom of expression, Karma raised the Morning Star Flag – a banned symbol of Papuan independence. The Indonesian police responded to the ceremony with crushing repression, beating and firing shots at the crowd. Karma was arrested and, on May 26, 2005, sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on charges of treason.
Throughout his time in detention, Karma has continued to display a tremendous amount of courage. He has suffered beatings at the hands of police and guards, and has coped with bronchopneumonia, a urinary tract infection, and various other medical problems. In July of 2010, Filep was given permission to travel to Jakarta to receive treatment for his health condition, thanks in part to advocacy by Amnesty International. Although Filep Karma was offered a pardon in July 2010, he rejected it on the grounds that his imprisonment was unjust. He maintains that accepting would have compromised his conviction in his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International considers Karma to be a prisoner of conscience.
Honor Filep Karma’s courage by joining us at the Free Filep Karma rally tomorrow. At 7:00pm on Thursday, May 19, we will gather at Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. to toast human rights defenders across the globe and celebrate 50 years of Amnesty International’s commitment to protecting human rights. At 8:00pm, we will form a candle lit procession to the Indonesian embassy (2020 Massachusetts Ave. NW). The rally will call for the release of Filep Karma and all prisoners of conscience in Indonesia, while images of activists holding solidarity flags will be projected onto the embassy. Nearly 7 years after sentencing, your support is as valuable as ever. Join us, and find your own simple courage.
Please RSVP to Emilia Gutierrez at [email protected] or at 202-544-0200 ext. 8141