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Symbolic Raising of The West Papuan Morning Star Flag

Symbolic Raising of The West Papuan Morning Star Flag

Wednesday December 1

The banned West Papua Morning Star flag will be raised in busy Queen St on December 1st at 12 Noon . Auckland supporters will do this for the people of Indonesian-controlled West Papua because they cannot undertake this simple act without risking jail. This action is also taken in solidarity with human rights activists in Wellington and Christchurch and around the world as they hold similar flag-raising events. Green MP Keith Locke will join the gathering.

Spokesperson Maire Leadbeater who has just returned from a visit to West Papua said: "The reality of the militarization of West Papua and the marginalisation of the indigenous people is heart-breaking. It was hard to explain to people there why our Government does not do more to help, but the people I met were delighted to know that we raise the Morning Star flag every December 1."

December 1 marks the anniversary of the date in 1961 when the newly elected "West New Guinea" council first raised the Morning Star flag. Then Indonesia derailed the Dutch plans for decolonisation of the territory by intervening militarily. Indonesia incorporated West Papua in 1969 in a widely discredited "Act of Free Choice" known as the "Act of No Choice". Western nations including New Zealand were complicit. Some 100,000 people have died in the ensuing conflict.

Amnesty 'prisoner of conscience' Filep Karma is serving 15 years in jail for taking part in a flag-raising event in 2004 and nine villagers were arrested for raising the flag earlier this month. A secret Indonesian Special Forces document has just been leaked: it outlines plans for the military to infiltrate and spy on churches, nongovernmental organizations and universities. 16 people were identified as "enemies of the state" including Church leaders such as Baptist head Socrates Yoman, activists, traditional leaders, elected representatives and the head of the Papuan Muslim Association.

New Zealand should urge President Yudhoyono to release West Papuan political prisoners jailed for upholding the right to freedom of expression and their right to dissent. We should also support the call for a peaceful dialogue between West Papuan representatives and the Indonesian Government - the first step justice for our Melanesian neighbours.

ENDS

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