Bound and Gagged

Prisoners of Conscience, Photo © Don Mullan

Images can be powerful. Don Mullan, Irish author and social justice campaigner, took this photograph of sculptures at the Red Cross Museum in Geneva representing prisoners of conscience. It captures starkly the isolation, silence and heroic power of those imprisoned for their beliefs and political convictions. All around the world there are thousands of heroic people imprisoned by governments, sometimes even by democratic governments, because they have chosen to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

Just one example. In December 2004, about 200 people participated in a nonviolent flag-raising ceremony outside Abepura in West Papua, a province of Indonesia. They raised the “Morning Star” flag, a traditional Papuan symbol of independence. Many in the province of West Papua are opposed to what they perceive as the Indonesian annexation of their country.

Police fired on the crowd. Some citizens were arrested by the Indonesian authorities, among them, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage. They were sentenced to 15 and 10 years imprisonment respectively. Amnesty International considers Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage to be prisoners of conscience who have been detained for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression. They continue to be imprisoned.
Just one story among thousands.

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