The Morning Star Flag: A Shared Identity, Legacy And Struggle
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) joins the 60th West Papua Flag Raising Day celebrating the continuing struggle of indigenous West Papuan for genuine peace, human rights and the right to self-determination.
The Morning Star Flag (Bintang Kejora) was initially raised as West Papua’s national flag on December 1, 1961, in a symbolic declaration of the country’s independence from the Netherlands. Indonesia would subsequently launch Operation Trikora a few weeks later, kicking off its occupation of West Papua and the ensuing ban on the Morning Star Flag.
This year’s celebration remains of special importance amid the pandemic and growing challenges West Papuans face. Criminalization and terrorist-tagging of Papuans grows as 20 political prisoners, including IPMSDL partner Victor Yeimo, remain imprisoned. Massive dispacements, especially in the highlands, due to Indonesian Army’s operations resulted in around 60,000 internally displaced persons. Killings by military shooting surpass pandemic mortality as the death toll in West Papua has reached 50,000 since 2010.
West Papuan land remains a haven for land grabbing for local colonizers and foreign imperialists as the Indonesian government continues to welcome destructive palm oil and mining projects. The Indonesian government’s attempt to quell the call for self-determination brought the Special Autonomy Law which in reality only maintains Indonesian control of the land, resources and life of West Papuan.
These challenges make the raising of the Morning Star flag meaningful. It becomes more than symbolic but actual assertion of West Papuan shared sense of identity, history, legacy and freedom.
West Papuan freedom means self-determination. Only with the right to self-determination West Papuan can realize their full potential without being hampered by colonial and imperialist dominance. Their freedom isn’t simply what makes their aspirations of freedom come true; it’s what allows them to dream in the first place.
As one West Papuan song declares, “Let the Morning Star rise, let the culture’s freedom fly high”. Let us join West Papuans around the world in raising the Morning Star Flag and stand in solidarity with its people!
Free West Papua!