By UCA News
Papuan rights groups have called on the Indonesian government to release six activists who remain in detention following a protest in December.
Hundreds of people marched in several Papuan cities, including Wamena, Nabire, Merauke and Jayapura on Dec. 19.
The protest was staged to mark the anniversary of a 1961 edict issued by then President Sukarno that called for the immediate annexation of Papua.
The protest ended with the arrest of 463 people, Agus Kossay, chairman of the West Papua National Committee told ucanews.com.
Six people remain in custody charged with treason and inciting hatred, which carry a penalty of 20 years in prison.
“We call for their immediate release,” said Kossay.
Gustaf Kawer, a human rights lawyer said authorities often use treason charges to oppress Papuans seeking greater autonomy or independence.
The protest was not an act of treason because people were expressing anger at a government mistake made long ago.
Papua police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said the authorities had evidence proving the activists were plotting treason.
He said investigators had confiscated rally plans, banners, and recorded speeches during the protest.
“These confirm a treason plot by the activists,” Kamal said without elaborating.