Filep Karma is a human rights activist and former civil servant who was arrested in 2004 for raising the Papuan Morning Star flag during an anniversary celebration of Papuan independence from Dutch rule and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
On December 1, 2004, Mr. Karma was arrested for organizing and participating in a ceremony at Trikora Field in Abepura, Papua, to celebrate the anniversary of the 1961 Papuan declaration of independence from Dutch rule. Several hundred Papuans gathered at the ceremony, shouted “freedom,” chanted a rejection of Papua’s Special Autonomy status and raised the Morning Star flag—a symbol of Papuan independence. When Indonesian police attempted to forcibly disband the rally, some attendees threw wood, rocks and bottles. Police responded by firing into the crowd. Mr. Karma and Mr. Yusak Pakage, another participant in the ceremony, were arrested and charged with sedition the next day. In May 2005, Mr. Karma was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Mr. Pakage to 10 years. Mr. Pakage accepted a conditional pardon and was released from prison in July 2010. Mr. Karma has refused a conditional pardon and remains a prisoner of conscience.
Mr. Karma’s health has seriously deteriorated and continues to worsen. He has suffered from prostate issues, debilitating knee and back pain, and chronic respiratory infections.
Filep Karma has been RELEASED.
- Filep Karma passed away on November 1, 2022 as a result of a scuba diving accident while on a trip with his family (November 1, 2022, Human Rights Watch).