Some of the villagers had previously been harassed by local government officials who told them to convert to Sunni Islam if they wanted to return to their homes. Now, after eight months, the Sampang district administration has agreed to the demands from anti-Shi’a groups to forcibly evict the Shi’a community from their shelter in a sports complex and remove them from Madura Island in East Java.
By Max White, Amnesty International USA Indonesia Country Specialist
Recently, Amnesty International released a comprehensive report, “Time to Face the Past,” documenting the disturbing failure by Indonesian governments, local and central, to establish the truth of what happened to victims of years of violence in the province of Aceh, Indonesia. The conflict left up to 30,000 people dead, many of them civilians; it is nearly eight years since the end of that conflict.
When President Obama came into office, he was encouraged to investigate and prosecute U.S. officials responsible for torture. In January 2009, the New York Times reported, “President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects.” He stated that, “…we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”
For many of us, Indonesia may seem to be a country recovered. We may recall the conflicts in Aceh, Papua and Timor-Leste in the late 1990s, or even the violence that ravaged the country in 1965. We may think of it as a country split asunder into more peaceful parts, a region struck by a tsunami that showed its strength to recover, or the former temporary residence of President Barack Obama.
For many of us, Indonesia is a country on the other side of the planet, whose human rights challenges perhaps don’t make us sit up and take notice compared to the acute and current crises we hear flit through our TV news.
Johan Teterissa in his cell at the Waiheru detention centre. (Photo Al Jazeera English)
Johan Teterissa is that forgotten prisoner in a dark cell who needs the Amnesty candle. The Indonesian elementary school teacher was recently transferred to Batu Prison on Nusakambangan Island in Indonesia, which is even further away from family and friends in Maluku.
His family couldn’t see the cuts bleeding from being beaten with electric cables upon his arrival at Batu Prison.
In June 2012 Amnesty International received credible information that he and other prisoners at Madiun Prison did not have adequate access to clean drinking water. The prison authorities were also limiting the amount of water available to Johan and other prisoners for bathing.
What was his crime? Johan is serving a 15-year sentence for peacefully unfurling the banned regional flag, the “Benang Raja,” at the end of a dance performed for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a ceremony in Ambon, Maluku. The police escorted twenty-two activists, including Johan, off the field. Once out of sight of the president, the police beat the activists, forced them to crawl on their stomachs over hot asphalt, and forced billiard balls into their mouths. Johan has never received adequate medical care for his injuries. Prison authorities turned away an independent doctor who tried to see him in July 2010.
Do you have a flag at your house, your school, your office, or on your car? In the US, many people display US flags, but you also see lots of other kinds of flags—flags from people’s countries of family origin, or rainbow flags for LGBT pride, or even confederate flags recalling the Civil War era. Whether or not you like a particular country’s flag, or agree with what a given flag stands for, you have to admit that people don’t often run into trouble for flying their various flags. They certainly don’t end up in jail. But then again, they don’t live in Indonesia.
On December 1, 2004, Filep Karma was arrested for raising a flag during a peaceful ceremony in Papua, Indonesia. Sentenced to 15 years behind bars for his nonviolent activism, Filep continues to be an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, and he needs our help! Now is the time to take action: flood the streets of DC, educate your community, Write for Rights, stand with Filep now!
Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
By Jasmine Heiss, Individuals at Risk Campaign Assistant.
Today, Amnesty International activists and supporters rallied in front of the Indonesian embassy in Washington DC to raise their voices on behalf of prisoner of conscience Filep Karma, an activist who’s spent the last 7 years in prison for raising a flag.
The rally was held a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Indonesia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Entrepreneurship Summit. Amnesty International urged Clinton to publicly state that human rights will play as important a role as trade and security in US–ASEAN relations.
Filep Karma has spent the last 6 years in prison for raising a flag. Join us in Washington, DC on May 19th for a rally at the Indonesian embassy demanding his release!
On December 1 2004, Filep Karma committed an act of simple courage. In commemoration of the 1962 declaration of Papuan independence, the prominent rights activist participated in a peaceful ceremony with hundreds of other members of Indonesia’s Papuan population. Exercising his right to freedom of expression, Karma raised the Morning Star Flag – a banned symbol of Papuan independence. The Indonesian police responded to the ceremony with crushing repression, beating and firing shots at the crowd. Karma was arrested and, on May 26, 2005, sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on charges of treason.
Even at nine in the morning on a Friday, when most of us would normally be counting down to the weekend, the energy in the Foundry in Washington, DC is phenomenal. In the sunshine outside, groups color flags in support of Filep Karma, while inside roses and key actions are passed around for signatures. Larry Cox hasn’t even arrived yet, and everyone is already buzzing with excitement.
By the time everyone has settled inside for the opening speeches, the count is well over one hundred Amnesty International activists. The various speakers infect the crowd with even more passion and anticipation, reaching a pinnacle when Larry announces that he has decided that joining us for Get on the Bus is more important than going home to meet with the IRS.
The group splits, half heading to demonstrate for the Women of Zimbabwe (WoZA) at the Zimbabwe Embassy and half for Walid Yunis Ahmad at the Iraqi Consulate. We march in long ovals, chanting and holding our signs, the very picture of peaceful protest. At the Iraqi Consulate, faces peer out from the windows and passers by stop to watch.
The global Write for Rights write-a-thon may have ended last week, but Filep Karma still needs your help more than ever.
While thousands of people were writing on behalf of Filep, who’s imprisoned in Indonesia for raising a flag, he was arbitrarily transferred from Abepura prison where he was held to a police lock-out in neighboring Jayapura. His transfer, along with political prisoner Buchtar Tabuni and others, followed a prison riot triggered by the killing of an escaped convict by prison authorities on December 3rd. Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni (along with another prisoner) were interrogated by police officials as witnesses to the riot. News reports claim that the police have not charged the men with any criminal offenses.
Since their relocation to police headquarters in Jayapura, Filep Karma, Buchtar Tabuni and other prisoners have reportedly suffered degrading treatment, includingdenial of access to food and drinking water, medicine, family and legal counsel. Karma, whose health has been fragile since major surgery in July, protested these detention conditions with a several-day hunger strike. Amnesty International is concerned that Filep Karma may be denied access to adequate medical attention. The menshould be granted immediate access to legal counsel of their own choosing, and any medical attention they may require.