World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


'We're Going To Their Aid'

'We're Going To Their Aid'

By Jenny Denton

The West Papuan Freedom Flotilla will set sail from Cairns on Saturday. A cultural exchange between Australians and West Papuans, it is a display of indigenous solidarity, writes Jenny Denton

A group of Australian Aboriginal, non-Indigenous and West Papuan activistswill set sail from Cairns for West Papuaon Saturday, on a journey that organisers describe as both cultural exchange and act of resistance.

Around 50 people have volunteered to take turns crewing two yachts up the coast of Cape York and across the Torres Strait to Daru Island, in southern Papua New Guinea, from where they hope to sail on to the Indonesian-controlled territory.

The group includes Aboriginal elders from South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, a Torres Strait Islander and one of the West Papuan refugees who arrived in Australia by outrigger canoe in 2006.

The voyage, which has been more than a decade in the planning and realisation, was inspired by a sense of solidarity between Indigenous Australian and West Papuan peoples, who share cultural connections as well as experiences of colonial brutality and a struggle for rights.

'The Freedom Flotilla is to explain to the world about the big family of Aboriginal and West Papuan and Torres Strait Islanders,' West Papuan leader Jacob Rumbiak told NM.

'This mission can also show people that the international community can take the lead as international peacekeepers to look after world peace and justice, starting from the Pacific region.'

Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott, who is from Arabunna country around Lake Eyre, came up with the idea for a flotilla to West Papua 13 years ago. He said the aim was to help the indigenous people of West Papua by drawing international attention to their situation.

'The brothers and sisters up there are in trouble. They've been having difficulties with the Indonesian mob for some years, and it's been a silent type of war. What we're doing, because we hear them calling for our help, is we're going to their aid.'

Since the annexation of West Papua by Indonesia in the 1960s, reports of arbitrary arrests, torture, killings and atrocities by the military and police have emerged steadily from the territory.

In October last year Amnesty International Australia called for an end to police violence against demonstrators there,stating:

'The Indonesian security forces have a track record of unchecked abuses, including torture and other ill-treatment, and the use of excessive force against protesters'.

The flotilla group has already travelled 5000 kilometres by road from Lake Eyre to the Far North Queensland capital, visiting Aboriginal communities, holding musical and ceremonial events and picking up participants along the way.

While organisers emphasise that the mission is one of culture and peace, its hard political edge will not be overlooked by Indonesian authorities.

'We hope to raise awareness of the plight of the West Papuan people,' says organiser Izzy Brown, 'and also draw attention to the sovereignty issue of indigenous people worldwide and put the [Indonesian] government on notice that their jurisdiction is in question'.

The Indonesian government has revoked sailing permits originally issued for the flotilla yachts and rejected the group's visa applications.

The activists plan to enter foreign waters with 'Original Nations' passports created by Aboriginal elders and stamped with visas by Jacob Rumbiak, who is the foreign minister of West Papua's alternative, independent government. The Federated Republic of West Papua was set up inside the territory in 2011. Its president and prime minister have been convicted of treason and are currently in jail.

'We're requesting safe passage,' Brown said, 'and we're hoping that both the Australian government and the Indonesian government can work to provide that.'

From Cairns it will take the boats a week to reach Thursday Island and another two days to sail to the island of Daru. Organisers expect the flotilla to reach West Papua in September.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recentlyreaffirmedthe Australian government's support for Indonesia's control of the territory now officially known as the two provinces of Papua and West Papua.-

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

West Papua: “Lest We Forget”

AS Anzac approaches and Australians and New Zealanders remember those who fought and lost their lives on Anzac Day, it is hoped we will also remember the unfree people of the Pacific region and in particular those who are still suffering from human ... More>>

Iran: 81 Executions In One Week

Coincident with mass executions in the prisons of Ghezel-Hessar, Karaj and other cities, the anti-human regime of mullahs sent 16 other prisoners to the gallows in Mashhad and Birjand (northeastern Iran). Twelve of them were hanged collectively ... More>>

Al-Shabaab: Four Unicef Staff Killed In Somalia

Four UNICEF staff members have been killed in an attack on their vehicle in Garowe, Somalia. Four other UNICEF colleagues are in a serious condition. The IED (improvised explosive device) attack occurred when the staff were travelling from their guest ... More>>

UN: Suicide Attack In Jalalabad Condemned

NEW YORK/KABUL/GENEVA (18April 2015) – “I strongly condemn the brutal suicide attack that coincided with my visit to Jalalabad today,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović during his visit to Afghanistan. ... More>>

Save The Children: STC Urges EU Leaders To Act To Prevent More Mass Drownings

Save the Children Urges EU Leaders to Act to Prevent More Mass Drownings at Sea. More>>

ALSO:

Japan: Independent Experts Slam Japan’s New Whaling Plan

Independent experts slam Japan’s new whaling plan and declare no more whales need to be killed for Antarctic research More>>

Gaza Strip: Attacks In The Border Areas

Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by ... More>>

Australian Government: Iraq Deployment: Joint Press Conference, Canberra

Back in March, the Government announced that we were preparing a force for a Building Partner Capacity training mission in Iraq. I can inform you that today the Cabinet has decided to deploy that force. The deployment will start tomorrow and we expect ... More>>

UNHRC: UN Committee Against Torture To Review New Zealand

UN Committee against torture to review New Zealand, Congo, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, Serbia, Colombia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia More>>

UNHRC: Nigeria: One Year On, Call To Bring Back Abducted Children

Nigeria: One year on, UN and African experts call for decisive steps to bring back abducted children More>>

EU & US Let Iran Win Top Seat On UN Women’s Rights Board

EU & US Allowed Iran to Win Top Seat on UN Women’s Rights Board, Rights Group Says More>>

Peaceful Tree Planting Attacked By Zionist Settlers/soldiers

Peaceful tree planting attacked by zionist settlers and soldiers, two Palestinians hospitalised and a German activist arrested. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news