On August 17th, a group of heroic activists set sail from Cairns, Australia, bound for West Papua in the Freedom Flotilla.
Their mission is to land on West Papuan soil against the express wishes of the government of Indonesia and use their journey to draw attention to the human rights abuses taking place in West Papua. The cruel occupation of West Papua by the Indonesian military is normally invisible to the outside world since Indonesia prevents any international journalists from entering West Papua.
The Freedom Flotilla is organized in part by aboriginal elder Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, West Papuan exiled activists Jacob Rumbiak, Amos Wainggai and Ronny Kareni (Rize of the Morning Star), and Melbourne rapper, Izzy Brown.
Read more about them on the Freedom Flotilla website.
Demonstrations of creative resistance like the Freedom Flotilla have the ability to focus the world’s attention on West Papua and shine a light on the true gravity of the Papuan people’s current situation in ways traditional protests simply cannot.
Regardless of the outcome, these brave activists have already exposed the lengths Indonesia is willing to go to silence the will of Papua’s indigenous people.
Even before these intrepid sailors have touched Papuan soil this experiment has already caused the Indonesian government no small degree of consternation as they have threatened to stop the flotilla using force if necessary.
Indonesian government official, Agus Barnas said
“If they enter Indonesian water, the armed forces will take measures. The order is to direct them away from Indonesian territory.”
Indonesian President Yudhoyono stated that Indonesia “would act decisively in dealing with any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Indonesia.”
In typical weak fashion, the Australian government has made it clear they will offer no support to the Freedom Flotilla. The flotilla activists face as much as 5 years in prison for attempting to enter Indonesia without permission.
Australian Senator Bob Carr stated:
“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.”
Despite Indonesia’s posturing and Australia’s obsequious kowtowing, The Freedom Flotilla activists are determined to land in West Papua.
We wish them success and safety in this important mission.
The Freedom Flotilla needs your support as well. Please consider donating funds or materials to this worthy venture.
From the Freedom Flotilla website:
The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is an unprecedented event of creative resistance to the Indonesian occupation of West Papua. The initiative of Indigenous Elders of Australia and West Papua will build global solidarity and highlight the abuses of human rights and land rights carried out under the occupations of their lands on an international stage.