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Papuans Behind Bars: November 2013

At the end of November 2013, there were at least 71 political prisoners in Papuan jails. 112 political arrests were made this month in three separate cases, bringing the total number of arrests so far this year to 537. This represents a 165% increase in the number of political arrests as compared with the same period in 2012, signalling a significant deterioration in the environment for free expression and assembly in Papua.

The police response to increasingly organised and coordinated demonstration activities across Papua is of concern this month, including several mass arbitrary arrests, repeated use of excessive force, blocking lawyers from accessing detainees, cruel and degrading treatment of detainees, and arrest and coercion of student activists to sign agreements to stop demonstrating.

Students of Cenderawasih University (UNCEN) have become locked in a bitter battle with university authorities over the involvement of lecturers in the drafting of a controversial revamp of the Special Autonomy bill. University authorities appear to be actively inviting police to suppress political activity on campus, leading to numerous arrests and beatings of students. A number of Papuan leaders have expressed concern at what they perceive as police efforts to systematically close down political space, particularly ahead of significant dates such as 1 May and in this case 1 December.

On 26 November 80 people were arrested in four different cities during demonstrations in support of the opening of a Free West Papua Campaign office in Papua New Guinea and the Sorong to Samarai campaign. One demonstrator was killed and three others have disappeared.

The trial for the six 1 May Biak detainees continue and mentally ill prisoner Yohanes Boseren remains in detention despite his condition. Human rights lawyers and NGOs have called for his release. Investigations continue into the case of four community leaders in Sorong who face charges of conspiracy to commit treason.

You can read the update online .


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