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Freedom Flotilla needs media support to 'expose' Indonesians

Freedom Flotilla needs media support to 'expose' Indonesians, says skipper

By Daniel Drageset

Friday, August 23, 2013

Item: 8387

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott, who is on board the West Papua Freedom Flotilla, says media attention is “very important” in order to “expose what’s happening” in West Papua.

“Media is pretty good at the moment. We have to expose [the situation in West Papua], and now point a gun with the cameras,” the 66-year-old said in an interview with Pacific Media Watch.

The West Papua Freedom Flotilla consists of three boats and 18 people.

The flotilla has gathered a range of pro-independence campaigners on the journey going from Lake Eyre in northern Southern Australia, via New South Wales and the Queensland coast, across the Torres Strait to Daru in Papua New Guinea and finally Merauke in West Papua, where the flotilla is scheduled to arrive early next month.

The objective was “to free our brothers and sisters up there with all the bad stuff that’s happening”, Buzzacott said.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, said Australian authorities had informed the Freedom Flotilla that local laws and penalties would apply in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

"We've given them this warning. Therefore, should they end up in prison as a result of breaching the law of Indonesia or Papua New Guinea, we've got no obligation to give them consular support," Carr said, according to news.com.au.

‘Should resign’
The comment from the Australian Foreign Minister was not appreciated by Buzzacott, who was one of the chief organisers of the flotilla and captains one of the boats.

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“It’s a shocking, shocking statement by the Foreign Minister [Bob] Carr, and also one of the opposition, Julie Bishop. Pretty sad.

“I think these people should resign. I think they should be forced to resign. They can’t be in that high position and make statements like that,” Buzzacott said.

The Aboriginal campaigner outlined the consequences of not being helped by Australian authorities.

“We’ll be jailed and drawn out of the water by the Indonesians if we go too far, too close or something, and rot in the jails over there.”

Indonesian warning
Indonesian authorities have labelled the Freedom Flotilla “a cheap publicity stunt”.

An Indonesian minister told The Guardian that if the flotilla entered Indonesian waters “the armed forces will take measures”, and said that “the use of weaponry may not be necessary”

“There’s over 50,000 troops waiting for us. You know, three little yacht boats, and they’re gonna blow us out of the water. It’s like a war thing. We’re not about war. We’re about peace,” Buzzacott said.

NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have pointed to several human rights concerns in the Indonesia-controlled territory of West Papua.

Lack of fair trials, torture and excessive use of force, monitoring of peaceful activists and no foreign journalists being allowed in the country were some of the concerns the two NGOs have documented in recent reports.

ends

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