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West Papuan National Flag Day: 1st December

West Papuan National Flag Day: 1st December

The 1st of December is West Papuan National Day or National flag day. Fifty two years ago on the December 1, 1961, in the then Dutch colony of West New Guinea, the West Papuan national flag, called the Morning Star, was flown for the first time officially beside the Dutch Tricolor. At that ceremony, as the Morning Star flag was raised, Dutch and Papuan military and police saluted and accompanied by a marine band playing the national anthem, “My Land Papua”.

The Dutch were finally about to give the West Papuan people their freedom. However, it is one of the great tragedies that at their moment of freedom it was cruelly crushed and West Papua was basically handed over to Indonesia in 1963.

After six years administration of the province, Indonesia held a sham referendum called the Act of Free Choice under UN supervision. Only 1,022 handpicked voters - one representative for approximately every 700 West Papuans - were allowed vote, and under coercion, voted to remain with Indonesia. The West Papuan people call this the ‘act of no choice’

Flag raising is one of the ways the West Papuan people protest the injustice the suffer under Indonesian control.The Morning Star flag is a symbol of Papuan identity and seen as treasonous by the Indonesian state.

Filep Karma is the best-known political prisoner in West Papua and is serving a sentence of 15 years for simply raising the West Papuan flag.

ENDS

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