“Tomorrow Father will go to raise a flag and will make a brief speech in Abepura Trikora square. Both of you take care. If I am arrested by the police do not worry, do not visit Father at the police station. Just stay home and go to school as usual. The Lord Jesus protects us all.”
Those were my father’s last words before he was arrested.
My name is Audryne Karma, the older daughter of Filep Karma, a Papuan political prisoner. My father is an alumnus of Universitas Sebelas Maret in Solo. He married mama, a Malay-Javanese in 1986. They have two children, me and, my younger sister Andrefina Karma.
In 1998 my father started advocating for the independence of West Papua from Indonesia through peaceful means. On 2 July, he led the pro-independence West Papua and raised the Morning Star flag in our original region, Biak, Papua. For three days the flag was displayed and Father made speeches. On July 6, the Indonesian military attacked the peaceful protesters. More than 100 protesters were killed, and several are still missing. My father was shot in both legs when he was praying at the scene. Indonesian authorities failed to conduct an in-depth investigation and have yet to acknowledge the “Biak Massacre” 15 years ago. My father was sentenced by the Indonesian court to 6 years in prison. However, two years later he was released when Gus Dur became president in 2000.
On December 1, 2004, my father and some friends gathered peacefully to commemorate the promised of independence for Papua, and the Morning Star was raised again. The police responded by beating and shooting the people who came. Approximately four people were injured, including my father. For this case, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “treason.”
My father’s case received widespread attention from Indonesian and international human rights organizations. He is considered a prisoner of conscience because of his human rights activism on behalf of Papuans, who continue to experience discrimination, racism and persecution.
In September 2011, a UN delegation, the “Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” investigated my father’s case and declared that he did not get a fair trial and that my father is a political prisoner. They urged the Indonesian government to immediately and unconditionally release my father. However, the government denied the existence of political prisoners in Indonesia until to date. My father’s case was further discussed in the Universal Periodic Review session of the United Nations in Geneva, in May 2012. Dozens of countries recommended release of political prisoners in Indonesia. Once again, the Indonesian government rejected the recommendation of the UN and denied the existence of political prisoners.
During his years in the Abepura prison in Jayapura West Papua, my father has several times suffered severe health problems, ranging from his weight dropping from 60 kilograms to 49 kilograms (132 pounds to108 pounds) due to poor sanitation and malnutrition in the prisons. He had severe prostate pain and chronic inflammation of the colon. We did not have much money for his medical expenses. The Indonesian government was not even willing to cover the cost of travel to a hospital and of the needed treatment. Nevertheless, many individuals and international organizations who sympathize with my father gave support to cover the costs if the Indonesian authorities allowed travel and treatment.
As the daughter of Filep Karma, I am saddened and disappointed at the government for the severe punishment imposed on my father. Our family suffers psychological pain caused by his imprisonment. To date there are more than 70 political prisoners in Papua. Like my father, they voice their political aspirations peacefully, without violence. As an Indonesian citizen, who is legally free to voice opinions, I implore President SBY to instruct the government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners in Papua.