The Indonesian authorities turned away the West Papua Freedom Flotilla today, refusing to allow them to land in Merauke, West Papua. The flotilla activists explicitly informed authorities that they were unarmed and meant no harm to anyone. They were travelling with First Nations passports, seeking to express their solidarity with the long suffering indigenous people of West Papua.
In defiance of this cowardly response, flotilla activists held a sacred ceremony with indigenous Papuan elders who risked their lives to ride out to sea in a tiny boat, meeting the flotilla activists in secret. Here is part of the report from the Freedom Flotilla website:
While the Freedom Flotilla’s flagship the Pog sailed towards West Papua, the world watched its progress via a live satellite tracker onboard the vessel, providing a much needed distraction for the clandestine ceremony to take place in an undisclosed location off the south coast of Papua.
During the momentous ceremony Arabunna Elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott presented the sacred water from the mound springs of Lake Eyre, along with ashes from the Aboriginal Tent Embassies around the country, to senior West Papuan leaders. The exchange was intended to reunite the cultures of the two indigenous peoples, whose lands where once joined before being separated at the end of the last ice age, and as a symbol of support for the West Papuans’ 50 year long struggle for freedom and justice under Indonesian military occupation.
Indonesian government terrified of 6 unarmed activists in a small boat
In addition to this expression of solidarity, the flotilla’s mission has succeeded in drawing a great deal of international attention to the plight of the Papuan people. Since Indonesia refuses to allow international journalists to visit West Papua, this is a major victory for freedom and human rights.
Furthermore, Indonesia’s refusal even to let these six unarmed activists set foot on Papuan soil demonstrates just how terrified they are of having the world’s eyes on their illegal and immoral occupation of a sovereign nation.
In anticipation of the flotilla’s arrival, the Indonesian military brought in some 2,500 troops bringing the total in Merauke to at least 5,000 to guard a city with a population of only 80,000 people. It’s clear from this absurd military presence that the Indonesian government knows they are not wanted, and it’s only a matter of time before they are forced to leave. If it doesn’t come from UN or international intervention in this ongoing human rights catastrophe, it will come from sustained resistance to their despotic and brutal rule.