Filep Karma

Filep Samuel KarmaIndonesia

Mr. Filep Samuel Karma, 54, is a prominent Papuan political activist and former Indonesian civil servant who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for raising a banned flag at a 2004 political rally. He is married and has two daughters.

Mr. 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 Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Karma’s detention as “arbitrary” under international human rights law.

Mr. Karma is currently 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 Mr. Karma’s wrongful detention, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which has designated Mr. 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.

Freedom Now represents Mr. Karma as his international pro bono legal counsel along with the international law firm Hogan Lovells US LLP.

Selected documents from Filep Samuel Karma's case
Jakarta's Dismal Record in PapuaMay 24, 2011

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Audryne Karma, the eldest daughter of West Papuan political prisoner Filep Karma

Letter from 26 Members of the U.S. House of RepresentativesAugust 22, 2011

Urging Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to release Filep Karma.

Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionNovember 16, 2011

Finding Filep Karma's imprisonment in violation of international law and calling for his immediate release.

Petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Filep KarmaMay 16, 2011

Submitted by Hogan Lovells LLP and Freedom Now on behalf of Mr. Karma