March 16 Protest at Indonesian Embassy in Washington
Several score demonstrators rallied at the Indonesian Embassy in
Washington, D.C. March 16 to protest against the continued
incarceration of Papuan prisoners of conscience Filep Karma and
Yusak Pakage, in Indonesian custody since December 2004.
The demonstration, organized by Amnesty International, and
supported by the West Papua Advocacy Team at the Robert F.
Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Center and the East Timor and
Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) continued for over an
hour on busy Massachusetts Avenue at rush hour.
A speaker from the West Papua Advocacy Team provided historical
context for the concern about prisoners of conscience Karma and
Pakage, incarcerated for peaceful protest and flag raising
ceremony. He noted that since the 1960's tens of thousands of
civilians have died as result of Indonesian military attacks and
the Indonesian governments failure to provide essential medical
and other services. The speaker also described ongoing violence
in Jayapura around protests regarding the practices of the U.S.
mining firm Freeport-McMoRan and broader calls for a withdrawal
of military troops from West Papua. The speaker also noted that
notwithstanding ongoing abuses by the Indonesian military which
remains unaccountable for decades of human rights abuse, the
U.S. Government recently decided to resume long-restricted
assistance to that unreformed military.