Tribute to Filep Karma

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) would like to convey condolences on the tragic demise of the famous human rights fighter, Filep Karma. Filep Karma’s body was found at Base G Beach, Jayapura on 1 November 2022 after diving in the area, which is said to have been a hobby of his. 

The cause of death of Filep Karma is still under investigation. However, his death has shocked Papuans and grassroots activist communities in Indonesia and around the Pacific region.

In addition, Filep Karma is also a prominent former West Papuan political prisoner who had always fought for the independence of Papua from the grip of Indonesia. The territory of West Papua was annexed into Indonesia as a wish of the imperialist powers during the Cold War. The Papuan dream of an independent West Papuan nation was crushed by the 1962 New York Agreement.

Many West Papuans have become involved in the struggle to determine their own destiny, through various actions, including the anual raising of the Morning Star flag on 1 December. Since the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia, repression and racial sentiments have been systematically implemented by the Indonesian military and police. An estimated 500,000 Papuans who have fought for their self-determiniation were killed by the Indonesian military who have always strongly suppressed such actions.  

On 1 December 2004, Filep Karma participated in the second flag-raising ceremony for the Morning Star Flag. Indonesian security forces fired into the crowd, killing pro-independence activists and Karma was again arrested on charges of treason against the Indonesian state and sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, he was granted early release on 19 November 2015, after serving 11 years. 

Veronica Koman, a human rights lawyer described Filep Karma as loving, courageous and full of wisdom. His death is a great loss to the Indonesian people, especially the West Papuan. According to Frits Ramandey from the Indonesian National Human Rights Institution, his body will undergo an autopsy. 

As there is a pre-existing history of state violence targetting vocal Papuan activists, PSM hopes that the investigation on Filep Karma’s death will be examied fairly and without interference from certain parties. We also suggest that an independent team involving a reliable international organization should be formed to help in the investigation.

Finally, as a continuation of Filep Karma’s aspirations and solidarity with the people of West Papua, PSM once again calls on the Indonesian government to stop the oppression towards the people of West Papua who relentlessly voice their demands to self-determine their own destiny and to recognize and respect those demands.

In Solidarity! 

West Papua Working Group,
International Bureau,
Parti Sosialis Malaysia


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