Filep Samuel Karma is a prominent Papuan political activist and former Indonesian civil servant who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for raising a banned flag at a 2004 political rally.
Karma was arrested on December 1, 2004, for organizing and participating in a ceremony at Trikora Field in Abepura, Paupa, at which several hundred Papuans gathered to raise the Papuan Morning Star flag and celebrate the anniversary of the 1961 Papuan declaration of independence from Dutch rule. Although Karma has explicitly denounced the use of violence, he was arrested and charged with treason. He was sentenced in May 2005 to 15 years in prison. His wrongful arrest, detention, and trial violate Indonesian law and Indonesian obligations under international law.
Karma was previously the victim of wrongful arrest and detention on similar charges in 1998. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 1999 condemned the imprisonment of Indonesian citizens for such expressive activity, singling out flag-raising in particular. The Working Group also specifically referred to Karma’s detention as “arbitrary” under international human rights law.
Karma was detained in a prison in Abepura in Papua and has suffered from ill health. He was denied necessary medical attention and was denied needed prostate surgery for nearly a year.
Numerous organizations have cited Karma’s wrongful detention, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which has designated Karma a prisoner of conscience. In addition, numerous members of the U.S. Congress have called for his release, and the U.S. State Department has cited Mr. Karma’s status as a political prisoner.
Karma was released from prison on November 19, 2015, four years before the end of his sentence.
Freedom Now represented Karma as his international pro bono legal counsel along with the international law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP.
Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Audryne Karma, the eldest daughter of West Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma
Urging Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to release Filep Karma.
Freedom Now’s letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo regarding the case of imprisoned Papuan activist Filep Karma
Freedom Now statement on the release of Filep Karma
Finding Filep Karma's imprisonment in violation of international law and calling for his immediate release.
Submitted by Hogan Lovells LLP and Freedom Now on behalf of Mr. Karma
Submission to the UN Human Rights Council in advance of Indonesia's Universal Periodic Review
Six members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry raising the continued detention of peaceful activists in Indonesia.