Conflict & Justice

Papua unrest: separatists charged with treason


Papuan protesters, their bodies and faces painted in the banned Morning Star flag, shout at a rally marking the 50th anniversary of the region's claim to independence in eastern Indonesia.



An independence movement in Papua, Indonesia's latest slow-boil insurgency zone, is heating up.

Leaders driving the unrest, who defiantly insist that jungly and remote Papua is a sovereign nation occupied by Indonesia, have been charged with treason, according to the AFP.

Vowing to wrench free part of a country is, by all accounts, treason. So it's certainly possible that independence agitators could be hit with life sentences, the maximum punishment for treason in Indonesia.

But the separatists, who appear to be poorly armed, are likely encouraged by the territories that have successfully seceded or secured special rights: East Timor, once Indonesian land, is now a sovereign nation; Islamic Aceh is now a special zone governed by Shariah law.

Human Rights Watch, by the way, says it's "appalling" that "modern, democratic" Indonesia would lock its own citizens up for expressing controversial views.