Four West Papuan Pro-independence Leaders in Sorong Arrested for Pray to Freedom Flotilla

SORONG CITY - Four West Papuan pro-independence leaders were arrested by authorities on Wednesday, in Sorong - a coastal city in the western Indonesian province of West Papua - on charges of organising a congregation pray meeting at the Marantha Church in the city.

Over 2000 people had gathered at the local church to pray for the safe passage of the "Freedom Flotilla" to West Papua - a journey, which the organisers say, hopes to reunite the indigenous cultures of Australia and West Papua, and bring human rights abuses to light. Reports say that around 200 policemen surrounded the church and arrested the four leaders.

Indonesia is bracing up for a show down with the "Freedom Flotilla" -a convoy of three yachts carrying approximately 50 West Papuan and indigenous Australian protestors - bound for the Indonesian territories of West Papua.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the organisers said the "Freedom Flotilla" is continuing its journey up the Far North Queensland Coast, reaching Portland Road on its way to West Papua. The fleet is expected to make unauthorised landfall in West Papua in September.

Indonesia has already warned the "Freedom Flotilla" activists that the navy will intercept the yachts and arrest the activists.

Even as the four arrested leaders remain in custody, organisers have written to the Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr expressing concern for the safety of the activists and their supporters both in Australia and West Papua. They have urged Carr to take up the matter with his Indonesian counterpart. 

It may be recalled that Carr in a statement issued last Tuesday, had termed the protestors as "fringe activists" and advised them not to engage in high- risk behaviour.

Organisers have expressed fears for the safety of the West Papuan refugee community in Melbourne and supporters on the island who are believed to have been targeted by Indonesian intelligence operatives for their involvement in the West Papuan pro-democracy movement.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, in show of global solidarity, a demonstration took place outside the Indonesian Embassy, in The Hague, calling for the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua. The campaigners have opened an office in the city in an effort to push for the cause of West Papua's independence and highlight the alleged human rights abuses that have taken place in West Papua since 1962. [AustraliaIBTimes/FreedomFlotilla]
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