BALI, Indonesia (AP) — Three activists from Indonesia’s restive West Papua province breached security to enter the Australian consulate in Bali early Sunday, calling for world leaders attending an economic summit on the island to pressure the Indonesian government to release political prisoners.
The men entered the compound and handed over a letter that asked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders to push Indonesia to free 55 people imprisoned for “discussing their political and human rights beliefs,” according to a copy of the hand-written letter released by The Alliance of Papuan Students.
The leaders are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit amid tight security on the resort island of Bali. Indonesia is highly sensitive to the separatist struggles in Papua, a former Dutch colony.
“We can confirm that three individuals from Indonesia’s Papua provinces delivered a protest letter at the Australian Consulate-General in Bali this morning to Australia’s Consul-General,” a spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an email.
It said the men left voluntarily before 7 a.m. The incident and security are being reviewed, it said, but there was no mention of how the men entered the consulate. The student group said the trio scaled a wall.
The activists’ letter also called for foreign journalists, diplomats, observers and tourists to be permitted to freely visit and report from the Papuan provinces. The government restricts visits by foreigners.
Papuan pro-independence activists have been given lengthy prison terms for peacefully expressing their views, organizing rallies or raising separatist flags.
Though Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua was formalized in 1969 through a stage-managed vote, a small, poorly armed separatist movement has battled for independence ever since.