West Papuan rallies banned by security forces

The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) has written to Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop over the banning of rallies in West Papua that had been called for October 13.

The purpose of the rallies was to call on the Indonesian government to free the two French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois who were arrested on the 6th of August in Wamena and remain detained in Jayapura. They could face up to five years in prison.

AWPA spokesperson Joe Collins said: “AWPA is concerned that there may be a crackdown on any rallies that are held by the civil society groups as the police have refused to give a permit to allow the rallies to go ahead.

“They police claim that the groups are not correctly registered in West Papua and demonstrators may use the symbol of the Morning Star flag on banners or posters, which is banned by Indonesia. In the past year the security forces have regularly cracked down on peaceful demonstrators in the territory beating and arresting many.

“We are urging the foreign minister to raise our concerns with the Indonesian government, outgoing president Yudhoyono and president-elect Joko Widodo asking that they inform the authorities in the territory that peaceful rallies are a democratic right and should be allowed to go ahead without interference by the security forces.”

[Reprinted from AWPA Sydney News.]

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