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Green MPs to raise banned flag at Parliament

Oct 17, 2000

Green MPs to raise banned flag at Parliament

Green MPs Keith Locke, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Nandor Tanczos and Rod Donald plan to raise full-sized banned "Morning Star" flags of West Papua on the steps of Parliament tomorrow, to mark the visit of West Papuan exile John Ondawame.

Mr Ondawame is being welcomed at Parliament at 8.30am tomorrow. MPs from other parties have been invited also to meet Mr Ondawame on Parliament steps.

The Speaker will not allow the flag to be flown on an official flag-pole, for protocol reasons.

Hundreds of West Papuan people have died raising the flag in support of self determination, or in protest at the repressive regime of the Indonesian military.

Indonesian police ordered the removal of all flags in the Papuan capital Jayapura by this Thursday, as part of a clamp-down on pro-independence activities.

Last year the Indonesian administration promised greater autonomy for the province, allowed a change of name to West Papua, and flying of the flag but only if it was raised alongside the national Indonesian flag and on a shorter flagpole.

In July 1998 in Biak, West Papua, demonstrators raised the outlawed flag in peaceful protests. Human rights groups estimate up to 300 people died in the police response, with bodies dumped at sea.

In another flag raising demonstration in Wamena earlier this month police tore down the flags and shot two pro-independence supporters dead, leading to further violence.

"In some respects West Papua - formerly called Irian Jaya by the Indonesians - is in the position East Timor was a few years ago," Mr Locke said. "I am very concerned that New Zealand does not make the same errors with West Papua as we did on East Timor so many years ago - taking a pro Indonesian line that failed to address both the extent of human rights abuses by Indonesia, and the legitimate call for independence from local people."

Keith Locke MP 4706710.

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