Jailed for waving a flag in Indonesia

Two men were locked up in Indonesia for the simple act of waving a flag. Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage were found guilty of “rebellion”. Flying the outlawed symbol of Papuan independence as a sign of peaceful protest resulted in 15 and 10-year prison sentences respectively.

But next week, as President Obama embarks on a trip to meet with Indonesian President Yudhoyono as a part of a larger Asia-Pacific tour, he can deliver a message that would finally restore the rights of Filep, Yusak and the more than 100 prisoners of conscience serving sentences in Indonesia today.

I am concerned that repressive legislation in Indonesia criminalizes peaceful political activities and freedom of expression. An example of this is the imprisonment of Papuan civil servant Filep Karma and student Yusak Pakage. They are serving 15 and 10 years, respectively, for peacefully raising a flag. They are just 2 of more than 70 other prisoners of conscience who have been sentenced to prison terms in Indonesia since 1998. I urge you to take this opportunity to call upon the country’s leaders to release all those who are jailed solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

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