by Tom Block
Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage are serving long prison sentences for their
participation in a peaceful flag-raising ceremony in Abepura, Papua province
on 1 December 2004. The two men, along with other Papuans, took part in a
peaceful ceremony in which the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan
independence, was raised in commemoration of the declaration of Papuan
independence in 1962. The commemoration is celebrated annually by some
Papuans. Approximately 200 people took part in the ceremony, and hundreds
more local people watched from the edge of the fields.
When the flag was raised, police advanced on the crowd, firing warning shots
and beating people with batons. Police also beat a human rights monitor from
the Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy (ELSHAM), who was
trying to photograph the police attack on the crowd.
Filep Karma was arrested at the site of the ceremony. Police reportedly beat
him and stomped on him during transportation to the police station. A group of
about 20 people were later arrested at the police station when they went to
protest over Filep Karma’s arrest. This group was subsequently released,
except for Yusak Pakage, who remained in detention with Filep Karma. The
two men were later charged with rebellion for their role in organizing the event.
Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage have staged hunger strikes during their
detention, to protest over their ill-treatment, and over the legality of the charges
against them. Filep and Yusak are reportedly both Christians who believe in
non-violence. Filep studied Social and Political Sciences while Yusak
reportedly studied Theology and Law. Upon his arrest, Yusak was pursuing a
Master’s Degree at the Theological College, Walter Post, in Jayapura.
Page created on 9/18/2015 4:37:57 PM
Last edited 9/18/2015 4:37:57 PM