News: 6 charged with treason in Indonesia after Papua protest

An Indonesian prosecutor charged five men
and a woman with treason on Thursday, accusing them of organizing a protest in Jakarta demanding
independence for the easternmost province of Papua. The peaceful protest of about 100 people had
been held outside the presidential palace and military headquarters on 28 August and
followed a period of unrest in Papua. Prosecutor P. Permana read out the indictment
in the Central Jakarta court saying the six defendants had organized a rally demanding
the Indonesian government allow a vote in Papua to let it separate from Indonesia. The indictment said, ”1 of the 6 waved the
“Morning Star” flag, while dancing and singing.” The flag is a banned symbol of Papuan nationhood. Prosecutor Permana said, “The action by the
defendants is treason with the aim to separate Papua province and West Papua province from
the unitary state of Indonesia,” There was a small protest outside the court
on Thursday held by pro-Papuan activists calling for the release of the six. The six could face up to 20 years in jail
if found guilty. A hearing for the defense is due on 2nd January,
but the six have said it was their constitutional right to participate in the rally. Resource-rich Papua was a Dutch colony that
was incorporated into Indonesia after a controversial U.N.-backed referendum in 1969. The region
has since endured decades of mostly low-level separatist conflict.