Ten activists — members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) — were arrested by Indonesian authorities on July 11 in Jayapura.
The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) condemned the arrests, saying the activists were simply handing out leaflets informing people of a rally to be held on July 12, to show support for West Papua becoming a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
According to the AWPA, Indonesian security forces took the activists to the Jayapura Resort Police station in Sentani, where they were detained for questioning for eight hours before being released.
It was reported that, using threats, police tried to pressure the KNPB activists into making a statement that they would not carry out activities in support of West Papuan independence.
AWPA spokesperson Joe Collins said: “Yet again, we have peaceful activists arrested for simply handing out leaflets about an upcoming rally, which is their right to do under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Under Article 19 of the Declaration, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Under Article 20, everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
“Hopefully any rallies that take place today [July 12] will be allowed to go ahead peacefully and there will not be a repeat of the brutal crackdowns that occurred at other peaceful rallies in the past.”
The MSG will meet in Vanuatu this month. The group consists of Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and the Front de Liberation Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) a pro-independence alliance of political parties in Kanaky (New Caledonia).
West Papua has observer status. Indonesia has associate membership.
The United Liberation Movement of West Papua has applied for full membership.