Thousands rally, some fly flag for independence in Papua

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 12/01/2008 8:22 PM | National
About 2,000 demonstrators marched through the West Papua provincial capital of Manokwari on Monday calling for the country to separate from Indonesia, Agence France Presse reported.

One man was arrested and struck repeatedly by police after apparently being caught carrying a banned “Morning Star” independence flag.

Displaying the flag or other “separatist symbols” is punishable by a maximum life imprisonment under Indonesian law.

Up to 10,000 people, many donning traditional tribal clothing, gathered for a prayer meeting in Nabire village in a neighboring Papua province as 500 police and soldiers looked on

Pro-independence Papuans celebrate Dec. 1 as a national day commemorating former colonial power The Netherlands’ 1961 recognition of Papua’s right to self-rule.

Indonesia gained sovereignty over Papua in a 1969 UN-sponsored vote by a select group of tribal leaders.

Meanwhile, in Tembagapura, Papua, a number of pro-independence activists raised the “Morning Star” on Monday early morning, and one hour later, the police pulled them down.

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