Australian solidarity activist jailed in Jakarta

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Australian solidarity activist jailed in Jakarta

By Max Lane

Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor member Chris Latham was arrested in Jakarta on November 29. Latham, who is a student in Sydney, was participating in a demonstration of workers and students organised by the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggles.

Latham was held and interrogated at Jakarta Central Police Station until December 2, when he was moved to the Immigration Detention Centre on the outskirts of Jakarta. He is imprisoned in a three-by-three-metre cell with two other people, one from Nigeria and one from South Africa.

Latham has not yet been told whether he is to be deported or brought to court in Indonesia. He has been visited by Australian embassy representatives and the People's Democratic Party (PRD) international department spokesperson, Mugianto.

According to Mugianto, Jakarta police are accusing Latham of repeatedly attending demonstrations in Indonesia, an activity which the police say contravenes the conditions of tourist visas. It appears that Latham has been under close surveillance during his stay — the police had detailed knowledge of his attendance at demonstrations.

Latham's arrest follows a raid by Indonesian intelligence officials on the Lampung office of the PRD the previous week. The officials said they were looking for Australian Democratic Socialist Party activist Roberto Jorquera, who was visiting Indonesia and meeting with student activists. Jorquera was not in Lampung at the time, but was later detained briefly at Denpasar airport in Bali as he left Indonesia.

The PRD protested against the raid and pointed out that Jorquera's visit to Indonesia was conducted openly and that the PRD activities he had attended in Lampung had been public events.