JAKARTA (AFP) — A hardline Muslim group staged a rally outside the US embassy in Jakarta on Saturday to protest over a call by Washington for the release of two Papuan activists.
Some 100 members of Hizbut Tahrir massed outside the embassy with banners reading: "We are against US intervention in Papua."
The demonstration came after some 40 members of the US Congress sent a letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urging an "immediate and unconditional" release of the activists on human rights grounds.
Philep Karma and Yusac Pakage were sentenced to 15 and 10 years respectively in 2005 after a court found them guilty of treason after they raised an outlawed separatist flag.
"The US Congress letter is obvious evidence that the US have given their support to Papua separatist group who want to be independent from Indonesia," Ismail Yusanto, spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia said in a press release.
The group also urged Yudhoyono to reject US intervention and to stick to the government's stance of eradicating separatist movements in the country.
Indonesia took control of Papua, a former Dutch colony on the western half of New Guinea island, in 1969 after a vote among a select group of Papuans widely seen as a sham.
Papuans have long accused Indonesia's military of violating human rights in the province and complain that the bulk of earnings from its rich natural resources flow to Jakarta.
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