The Australia West Papua Association thanks the Inner West Council in Sydney for supporting the raising of the West Papuan National Flag on its Leichhardt Town Hall today, 29 November at 10am. (to commemorate the first official flying of the Morning Star flag on the 1st December in 1961). (Note Council closed 1st Dec.).
Joe Collins of AWPA said, "This is the 10th year in a row that the Council has raised the Morning Star Flag on one of its Town Halls and more than ever we need to bring attention to the human rights abuses that are occurring in West Papua".
Since the demonstrations that occurred on the 17 August and the 23 September (when thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against incidents of racism against students), 22 West Papuans have been arrested and many face charges of treason.
Those arrested include ULMWP Deputy Chairperson Buchtar Tabuni, West Papua National Committee (KNPB) Chairperson Agus Kossay, KNPB Mimika Chairperson Steven Italy and activist Surya Anta.
Joe Collins said, "its tragic that Canberra seems to have difficulty raising the abuses in West Papua with Jakarta. Our Foreign Minister should be calling for Jakarta to release all West Papuan political prisoners and the Indonesian President who claims to have a special relationship with Papua, should release them as a sign of good faith to the West Papuan people".
Background: West Papuan National Flag Day. 1st December
On the 1st December in 1961, the Morning Star flag (the West Papuan National flag) was flown for the first time officially beside the Dutch Tricolor. The Dutch were finally about to give the West Papuan people their freedom.
However it is one of the great tragedies that at their moment of freedom it was cruelly crushed and West Papua was basically handed over to Indonesia in 1963.
Fifty eight years later, the West Papuan people are still struggling for their right to self-determination. Supporters around the world on the 1st December raise the West Papuan flag in a show of support for the West Papuan people.