Please do this simple task for
Call your representative in Congress. Urge him or her to sign the
letter by Rep. Patrick Kennedy urging the release of West Papuan
political prisoners Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage.
For peacefully raising a flag, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage may spend
the next decade or more in prison in Indonesia unless we act today. On
December 1, 2004, some 200 people participated in a nonviolent ceremony
outside Abepura. The Morning Star flag, a traditional Papuan symbol, was
raised in commemoration of the 1962 declaration of Papuan independence.
Karma and Pakage were convicted in May 2005 for taking part in this
demonstration and were sentenced to 15 and 10 years in prison. Amnesty
International has adopted them as Prisoners of Conscience.
What YOU can do:
Call your Representative today. Urge her/him to sign on to the letter
being circulated by Representative Patrick Kennedy's
office demanding the release of political prisoners Filep Karma and
A copy of the Congressional letter to Indonesian President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono is pasted below --
additional background follows.
When you call ask to speak to the foreign affairs legislative assistant.
The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121 (ask for the office
of your Representative), or check
for contact information. To sign on to the letter the aide should
contact Daniel Murphy in Rep. Patrick Kennedy's office (5-4911).
Every call makes a difference.
Please keep us posted of the results of your calls by writing to email@example.com.
1. Karma and Pakage are prisoners of conscience and should be freed
immediately. They were convicted under unjust laws for peaceful
expression of their political views.
2. The government of Indonesia must demonstrate its commitment to
freedom of expression by releasing people convicted under these
3. The U.S. Congress needs to be a strong advocate for human rights
in Indonesia and elsewhere. Representative Kennedy's
letter is an opportunity for members to express their commitment to
freedom of expression as a fundamental value and human right that must
be defended everywhere!
You can e-mail your
representative directly through Amnesty International's website.
Letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Dr. H Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President of the Republic of Indonesia
We the undersigned members of the U.S. Congress respectfully call to
your attention the cases of Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage who, in May
2005, were convicted and sentenced for their involvement in the
legitimate and peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression in
Abepura, Papua on December 1, 2004. Amnesty International has declared
the two 'prisoners of conscience.' We also call your attention to reports by reputable sources that Mr.
Karma was beaten by the police following his arrest. There are also
reliable reports that police at the scene of the demonstration beat a
human rights defender who sought to photograph the violent police action
against peaceful demonstrators.
The unjust imprisonment of Mr. Karma and Mr. Pakage occurs in the
context of a crackdown on Papuan human rights defenders, which has
included general public threats by senior military officials and
intimidation directed at individuals by anonymous figures. This
campaign of threats and intimidation has targeted Papuans who met with
and gave testimony about human rights abuse to a senior UN human rights
representative when she visited Papua at your government's
invitation in June 2007.
We urge you to take action to ensure the immediate and unconditional
release of Mr. Karma and Mr. Pakage. Any security officials who
mistreated Mr. Karma or who may have employed inappropriate force
against peaceful demonstrators should be prosecuted. Such steps would
be an important indicator that Indonesia, as a member of the UN Human
Rights Council, takes its international obligations to fully respect
universally recognized human rights.
In accordance with all applicable rules and regulations, we thank you
for your attention to this matter.
Following the forced resignation of former Indonesian President Suharto
in 1998, over 230 political prisoners were released in a series of
presidential amnesties, and repressive legislation limiting freedom of
expression fell out of use for a brief period of time. Since early 2001,
however, such legislation has once again been used with increasing
frequency against government critics, including labor and political
activists, journalists, and activists in Aceh and West Papua. A number
of human rights organizations have also been charged with
what appears to be an attempt by the authorities to discredit them and
disrupt their legitimate work.
Amnesty International has documented more than 60 prisoners of
conscience sentenced to prison terms since 1998. Hundreds more political
prisoners have faced trial in the provinces of Aceh, Papua and Maluku,
and Amnesty International believes that many may have been convicted
solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of
In May of 2005 Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage were convicted for taking
part in a peaceful demonstration commemorating the 1962 declaration of
Papuan independence. Karma and Pakage's
convictions came under Articles 154 and 155 of the Indonesian Criminal
code. These articles criminalized 'public
expression of feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt toward the
government' and prohibited
'the expression of such feelings or views through the public
media.' In July 2007, Indonesia's
Constitutional Court overturned these laws --
yet dozens of people remain in prison for exercising their fundamental
right to freedom of expression. Indeed, earlier this year, several
people convicted of waving pro-independence flags in front of the
President in Ambon in the Malukus in 2007 were convicted of treason and
sentenced up to life in prison.
According to Amnesty International and other reports, Indonesian police
who arrested Mr. Karma at the site of the demonstration subsequently
beat him en route to the police station. At least four people were
reportedly injured when police opened fire on the peaceful crowd. Police also reportedly beat a human rights monitor who attempted to
photograph the police attack on the crowd gathered for the flag raising
On May 16, the United Nations Committee Against Torture reported the
following regarding Indonesia: "The Committee
is deeply concerned about the numerous ongoing credible and consistent
allegations, corroborated by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other
sources, concerning routine and widespread use of torture and
ill-treatment of suspects in police custody, especially to extract
confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings."