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Outrageous reason 7 were jailed

Seven young men have been sent to jail for ten months for treason in West Papua. Their crime was raising the banned Morning Star flag.

The youngest who is 19 years old and others in their 20s were convicted and sentenced by the Jayapura District Court this week. They also have been fined.

The flag is considered a symbol of the West Papua struggle for independence and is strictly barred by the Indonesian authorities.

The group raised the flag at the Cenderawasih Sports Centre.

The Morning Star flag at an Australian Mall. Seven young men have been sent to jail for ten months for treason in West Papua. Their crime was raising the banned Morning Star flag. Picture: Australian West Papua Association

According to media reports, the judges said raising the Morning Star flag and marching while shouting “Free Papua” and “We are not Red and White, we are the Morning Star”, amounted to treason.

They said the act of unfurling banners with the words “Self Determination For West Papua, Stop West Papua Militarism” and “Indonesia Immediately Open Access for the UN Human Rights Commission Investigation Team to West Papua” was also considered treason.

The verdict read “the defendants already have the intention of separating Papua and West Papua from the territory of Indonesia. The defendants have committed the beginning of treason as stipulated in Article 87 of the Criminal Code.”

After the trial, the defendant’s lawyer Emanuel Gobay said he rejected the Court’s verdict of treason.

Mr Gobay argued that during the trial, no expert witnesses were presented to explain their perspectives on the charges.

The Morning Star is used by the Free Papua Organisation and other independence supporters. Under Papua’s Special Autonomy Law, ratified in 2002, the flag may be raised in the West Papua region so long as the flag of Indonesia is also raised and it is higher than the Morning Star flag.

The Morning Star flag at the Commonwealth Games. Seven young men have been sent to jail for ten months for treason in West Papua. Their crime was raising the banned Morning Star flag. Picture: Sports for West Papua

The flag consists of a red vertical band along the hoist side, with a white five-pointed star in the centre, and thirteen horizontal stripes, alternating blue and white, with seven blue stripes and six white ones. The seven blue stripes represent seven customary territories in the region.

Netherlands were the colonial rulers of West Papua known then as Irian Jaya. In 1962, the United States Government managed to engineer a meeting between Indonesia and the Netherlands resulting in the New York Agreement, which gave control of West Papua to the United Nations and one year later transferred control to Indonesia.

It is estimated that between 100,000 and 500,000 people have been killed in violent clashes between pro-independence groups and Indonesian security forces and up to 100,000 have been internally displaced.

Only seven countries recognise West Papua as a nation and all of them are from the Pacific and these include Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Palau, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.

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