Rally to Free Filep Karma in Washington DC

Filep KarmaFilep 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.


Prisoner of Conscience Filep Karma Begins 7th Year in Prison in Indonesia for Raising a Flag

This post is part of our Write for Rights series.

Former civil servant Filep Karma was among approximately 200 people who took part in a peaceful ceremony in Abepura, Papua Province, Indonesia on 1 December 2004. In commemoration of the declaration of Papaun independence in 1962, the Morning Star Flag was raised. Police then advanced on the crowd, firing warning shots and beating people with batons. Filep Karma was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for treason.

In a country like the United States, the jailing of a peaceful political activist for raising a flag may sound mind-boggling. Yet, Amnesty International has documented that over 100 activists in Indonesia have been arrested and sentenced for raising forbidden flags and engaging in peaceful political activities.


Indonesian Prisoner Yusak Pakage Released!

Yusak PakageIndonesian prisoner of conscience Yusak Pakage has been released from prison! Along with fellow political prisoner Chosmos Yual, Pakage was released this morning from the Doyo Baru prison. Pakage was sentenced to a 10 year jail term for raising the Morning Star flag in December 2004. He, along with Filep Karma, was found guilty of “rebellion” for flying the outlawed symbol of Papuan independence as a sign of peaceful protest of Indonesian government policy.

Pakage has expressed his thanks to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for all the work put towards demanding his release. Amnesty supporters took action by petitioning the Indonesian government, holding vigils, and standing in solidarity on his behalf.

While we welcome this great news, fellow prisoner of conscience Filep Karma still remains in prison. We must continue to take action in demanding Karma’s release.  Call on your Members of Congress to support House Resolution 1355 calling for the release of Indonesian political prisoners. Additionally, you can stand in solidarity by contributing messages of hope and support and writing directly to the president of Indonesia.

Pakage’s release is a huge success, but we need your continued support to demand that Indonesia uphold international laws of free and peaceful expression!

Another Way to Celebrate Flag Day!!

While we live in a country where there is a holiday that honors the American flag, it’s hard to imagine that in other countries it is considered a crime to raise a flag!  Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the American flag, is celebrated in the United States on June 14th.


It may seem silly that we have an entire day devoted to a rectangular piece of material, but the meaning of the flag runs deeper than that. The American flag is a representation of not only the freedom our country possesses as a whole, but also the freedom bestowed to each individual – a kind of freedom that is often denied in other parts of the world.

In December of 2004, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage were arrested for raising the West Papuan flag, known as the Morning Star” flag during a peaceful ceremony outside Abepura in Papua, Indonesia. The flag is a symbol of Papuan independence. Filep and Yusak were subsequently charged with rebellion for allegedly leading the flag-raising event, and were later sentenced to prison for 10 and 15 years respectively in May 2005 for charges of treason for “betraying” Indonesia by flying the outlawed flag. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience, detained purely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression.