UN official defends West Papuan rights – free speech, peaceful assembly

UN’s OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani … “there are many West Papuan grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent.” Image: UN interview screenshot

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been defended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a response to the mass arrests of Papuan protesters during flag raising ceremonies earlier this month.

“These are indigenous people at the end of the day,” says spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

“So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefitted from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had.

LISTEN HERE: The full interview with OHCHR’s Ravina Shamdasani

“The rates of malnutrition are quite high.”

Shamdasani said in a radio interview with UN News that while President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been initiating development projects, “the problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted.

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“There haven’t been meaningful consultations [with] the people who are actually affected by this.”

In the interview, Shamdasani put into context the recent arrests of nearly 600 citizens who were detained for participating in West Papua’s national day, December 1, a global event for commemorating the first raising the Morning Star flag – banned by Indonesian authorities.

She also answered questions about development, armed conflict, and trying to gain access to the region.

Behind the West Papuan protests
The UN interview transcript:

[UN NEWS] The mass arrest of demonstrators in Indonesia who were attempting to mark a national day for indigenous people in the east of the archipelago, has been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

More than 500 activists were detained at the start of the month – though they’ve since been released.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News’ Daniel Johnson what’s behind these latest developments.

Ravina Shamdasani (RS): Last weekend there were peaceful protesters in the Papuan region of Indonesia who were celebrating what they call the “West Papua National Day,” and some 500 of them were arrested, detained. They were all subsequently released within 24 to 48 hours, but this does not take away from the fact that they should not have been arrested in the first place, and that this is not the first time this has happened.

It happens year after year and on several occasions during the year as well.

Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva (UN): What exactly are they protesting for apart from the fact that it’s their national day?

RS: Quite often these protests are protests for independence from Indonesia and of course we understand that the situation is complex. The Indonesian government is certainly not happy with these protests, but these people have their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. So there was really no reason to arbitrarily detain them.

UN: As a minority what particular rights are they trying to defend and what are they trying to say is being threatened?

RS: Well, these are indigenous people at the end of the day. So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefited from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high. Now the current president of Indonesia has been initiating development projects. The problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted. There haven’t been meaningful consultations of the people who are actually affected by this.

UN: Why is that? What structures are there in Papua, in Indonesia, to do this or not?

RS:The president has his analysis that the problem is one of economic development, um so he is trying to tackle that. But what we have emphasised, and what our previous High Commissioner during a visit to Jakarta in February of this year emphasised, was that development can of course bring with it access to many fundamental goods and services that can vastly improve people’s well beings, but if they cannot voice their concerns, and if they can’t participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare, because it doesn’t really address the problems that they have.

UN: Ok, and what is your presence on the ground in this part of Indonesia given that it’s a huge country archipelago?

RS: We do not have a presence in Indonesia but we have a regional office in Bangkok that covers Southeast Asia – So we are, you know, in close contact with human rights defenders, civil society, government officials as well.

We have actually been seeking access to this region for quite awhile now. In February the High Commissioner was promised access, and we are still in discussions with the government of Indonesia to make that happen.

UN: This issue is not one that I’ve seen very often having been here what four years now. What’s your hope for the follow up and how many other similar cases are there that go really beneath the radar of international mainstream media?

RS: Too many international mainstream media tend to focus on the big conflicts. However there are many places like Papua, which are quite small, which have historic kind of long standing structural issues and unfortunately may not come up to the radar until there is an outbreak of conflict

What our office tries to do is try to ring the alarm bells early on, before the situation rises to the level of an armed conflict.

UN: You’re not suggesting it’s at that level now? Of course.

RS: No we’re not suggesting it’s at that level now, but there are many grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent. And then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard.

This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment. There are armed groups that are operating. In fact, just this week I believe a number of people were killed. These were government contractors who were there doing a development project.

They were killed by armed groups which of course is unacceptable, but you have to understand the root causes and you have to address the root causes.

UN Office of Human Rights defends Papuans right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesian police arrest more than 500 over West Papua flag demos

Hundreds of Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) in march in Surabaya to commemorate December 1, a day they consider to be West Papua liberation day, on Saturday. Image: Wahyoe Boediwardhana/jakarta Post

By Arnold Belau in Jayapura and Wahyoe Boediwardhana in Surabaya

More than 500 Papuans in several cities across Indonesia and West Papua were arrested following rallies at the weekend marking December 1 to commemorate what many Papuans claim to be the birth of West Papua nation in 1961.

The lawyer of the arrested Papuans, Veronica Koman, said in a statement on Saturday that 537 people were arrested in Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara, Ternate in North Maluku, Manado in North Sulawesi, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Jayapura, Asmat and Waropen in Papua and Surabaya in East Java.

Among the total, 322 were arrested in Surabaya.

READ MORE: Nationalist militia attack Papuan rally in Surabaya

In Papua, 90 people were arrested in separate places and times.

On Friday, a day before the rallies, joint forces of the Indonesian Military and the National Police searched the headquarters of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) in Kampung Vietnam in Jayapura.

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The joint force also arrested Larius Heluka on Friday.

The following day, the joint force arrested 89 people in Abepura in Jayapura municipality, in separate places in Jayapura regency and in Yapen regency. As of Sunday, all 90 had been released by the police.

Kupang arrests
In Kupang, the police arrested 18 people early Saturday morning.

East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Inspector General Raja Erizman said the Papuans were not arrested but “secured and questioned”.

“I have ordered [Kupang Police chief] to treat them well,” Raja said Saturday.

In Surabaya, which saw one of the biggest December 1 rallies, a clash occurred between about 300 people grouped under the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and other groups that accused the Papuans of “committing treason”.

Seventeen Papuans were injured, with some sustaining head wounds.

The Papuan students in Surabaya made a public speech, calling on Papuans to not remain silent when it came to discrimination and restrictions on their freedom of speech. They also campaigned for self-determination for Papuans’ future.

However, the situation became tense when a group consisting of around 200 people from several mass organisations, including the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans Children (FKPPI) and Pancasila Youth (PP), arrived on the scene to stage a protest against AMP.

Clashing camps
The two camps launched verbal attacks at each other, which escalated into a physical altercation.

“At first, this rally ran peacefully, until we were blocked in front of the Grahadi building and then came the Pancasila Youth mass organization, which intimidated us and turned the situation into an [altercation],” AMP human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said after the incident on Saturday.

The East Java Police and Surabaya Police deployed 1055 police personnel, aided by two Army groups and the Surabaya Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), to disperse the two clashing camps.

Koman said the AMP had respected the aspirations of the mass organisations, but the counterprotesters should not have incited the riot by throwing bottles and sharpened bamboo at the students.

AMP spokesperson Dorlince Iyowau said the Papuans only demanded the right to decide their own fate.

“Our main demand is the right to decide our own fate, as a democratic solution for West Papua. We want Papuans to have their own political rights,” Dolince said.

‘Committing treason’
Meanwhile, PP Surabaya Secretary Baso Juherman accused the alliance of committing treason.

“The rally [by the alliance] was clearly a treasonous act. The PP took to the streets to prevent them [from committing treason], because the rally hurt Surabaya residents,” Juherman said.

The coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Surabaya, Fatkhul Khoir, called on the release of the 322 people in a statement on Sunday.

Arnold Belau and Wahyoe Boediwardhana were reporting for The Jakarta Post.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

West Papuan ‘independence day’ – nationalist thugs attack rally in Surabaya

Report by Dr David Robie – Café Pacific.

A bloodied Papuan student attacked during yesterday’s December 1 Free West Papua rally
in Surabaya, Indonesia. Image: Human rights sources

From the Pacific Media Centre

By Tony Firman of Tirto in Surabaya

A protest action by the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Indonesia’s East Java provincial capital of Surabaya yesterday demanding self-determination for West Papua has been attacked by a group of ormas (social or mass organisations).

Police later raided Papuan student dormitories in the evening and detained 233 students in a day of human rights violations as Indonesian authorities cracked down on demonstrations marking December 1 – “independence day”, according to protesters.

The group, who came from a number of different ormas, including the Community Forum for Sons and Daughters of the Police and Armed Forces (FKPPI), the Association of Sons and Daughters of Army Families (Hipakad) and the Pancasila Youth (PP), were calling for the Papuan student demonstration to be forcibly broken up.

READ MORE: Surabaya counterprotest, 300 arrested in West Papua flag demonstrations

“This city is a city of [national] heroes. Please leave, the [state ideology of] Pancasila is non-negotiable, the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is non-negotiable”, shouted one of the speakers from the PP.

At 8.33am, a number of PP members on the eastern side of Jl. Pemuda began attacking the AMP by throwing rocks and beating them with clubs. Police quickly moved in to block the PP members then dragged them back.

The AMP protesters had began gathering at the Submarine Monument at 6am before moving off to the Grahadi building where the East Java governor’s office is located.

However they were only able to get as far as the Surabaya Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) building before they were intercepted by police from the Surabaya metropolitan district police (Polrestabes) and the East Java district police (Polda).

‘Independence’ day
The AMP demonstration was held to mark December 1, 1961, as the day West Papua became “independent” from the Dutch. For the Papuan people, December 1 is an important date on the calendar in the Papuan struggle which is commemorated every year.

The historical moment in 1961 was when, for the first time, the West Papuan parliament, under the administration of the Dutch, flew the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag, symbolising the establishment of the state of West Papua.

Since then the Bintang Kejora was flown alongside the Dutch flag throughout West Papua until the Dutch handed administrative authority of West Papua over to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on October 1, 1962, then to the Indonesian government on May 1, 1963.

The UNTEA was an international mechanism involving the UN to prepare a referendum on whether or not the Papuan people wanted to separate or integrate with Indonesia.

The referendum, referred to as the Act of Free Choice (Pepera), resulted in the Papuan people choosing to be integrated into Indonesia.

Since then, the administration of West Papua has been controlled by the Indonesian government and the flying of the Bintang Kejora illegal – as it is deemed an act of subversion (maker) – and have responded to protests with violence and arrests.


A video of the arrests in Ternate, North Maluku. Video: Arnold Belau/Suara Papua


Police arrest 99 Papuan activists at pro-independence rally in Ternate
Arnold Belau of Suara Papua reports from Jayapura that at least 96 activists from the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) were arrested by police in Ternate, North Maluku, after they forcibly broke up a rally in front of the Barito Market.

A Suara Papua source from Ternate said that the FRI-WP action was closed down by police and intel (intelligence) officers and the demonstrators forced into trucks as they were about to begin protesting in front of the Barito Market.

The source said that several activists were dragged and assaulted as they were forced into the truck.
“Several comrades who were at the action were dragged and forced to get into a truck by police and intel in Ternate,” they said.

The source said that as many as 99 people were arrested, 12 of them from West Papua and the rest activists from FRI-WP. One of the protesters had to be rushed home because because of breathing difficulties.

“One of the people had difficulty breathing and was rushed home. Twelve people were from Papua and the rest from Ternate. Currently they are being taken to Polres [district police station]”, they said.

Ternate district police Tactical Police Unit head (kasat sabhara) Aninab was quoted by semarak.news.com as saying that the protesters would be taken to the Ternate district police station.

‘Given guidance’

“We will take them to Polres, question them. If in the process of delving into the matter it is discovered that they committed a violation then they will be charged, but we will bear in mind that are still young and [they should be] given guidance,” he said.

Earlier, the protesters sent a written notification of the action to the Ternate district police but it was rejected with police saying that the planned action was subversive (maker).

Upon arriving at the Ternate district police station they will be registered and those who originate from Papua will be separated from those from North Maluku.

FRI-WP is demanding that the Indonesian government must resolve human rights violations in Papua and that the Papuan people be given the freedom to hold a referendum to determine their own future.

Background
Although it is widely held that West Papua declared independence from Indonesia on December 1, 1961, this actually marks the date when the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag was first raised alongside the Dutch flag in an officially sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia.

The first declaration of independence actually took place on July 1, 1971 at the Victoria Headquarters in Waris Village, Jayapura.

Known as the “Act of Free Choice”, in 1969 a referendum was held to decide whether West Papua, a former Dutch colony annexed by Indonesia in 1963, would be become independent or join Indonesia.

The UN sanction plebiscite, in which 1,025 handpicked tribal leaders allegedly expressed their desire for integration, has been widely dismissed as a sham.

Critics claim that that the selected voters were coerced, threatened and closely scrutinised by the military to unanimously vote for integration.

Both of these articles were translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the Surabaya article was “Peringatan 1 Desember Papua, Demo AMP Surabaya Diadang PP & FKPPI” and the Jayapura one “Peringati Hari Lahirnya Embrio Negara Papua Barat, Polisi Tangkap 99 Orang di Ternate”.

This article was first published on Café Pacific.

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Why Papuans feel differently about Indonesia’s Independence Day

A Papuan protester with a hand painted version of the Morning Star independence flag. Jayapura police chief says the use of Morning Star attributes could be linked to “treason”. Image: Free West Papua Campaign

By Ivany Atina Arbi and Nethy Dharma Somba in Jakarta and Jayapura

The 73rd celebration of Indonesia’s Independence Day last week was tinged with reports on actions from some Papuans outside and inside the provinces which upset authorities over their perceived refusal to celebrate Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch.

On August 15, a clash occurred between Papuan students and mass organisation members on Jl. Kalasan in Surabaya, East Java, as the students reportedly refused to raise the country’s red-and-white flag in front of their dormitory.

The men demanded the Papuan students comply with a regulation mandating the raising of the Indonesian flag every August 17.

READ MORE: Indonesian police detain 49 in attack on dormitory

A release signed by Azizul Amri of the National Students Front and Nies Tabuni of the Papuan Students Association in Surabaya said the students actually did not object to raising the flag.

They accused people from the mass organisations of attacking their dormitory before the dialogue between them had concluded.

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According to the students, about 30 people from mass organisations asked them to raise the Indonesian flag. The students claimed they did not object to it but they needed time to “coordinate” with the dormitory’s caretaker, who was out of Surabaya at that time.

A clash ensued, in which a man was injured.

The Indonesian flag controversy: According to the Papuan students, about 30 people from mass organisations asked them to raise the Indonesian flag. The students claimed they did not object to it but they needed time to “coordinate” with the dormitory’s caretaker, who was out of Surabaya at that time. Image: Aman Rochman/Jakarta Post

Dormitory attack
Basuki, one of the mass organisation members, said as quoted by kompas.com that one of his men had been attacked by a dormitory resident wielding a sharp weapon.

The students said in their release that three members of the organisations had beat one student. The student later ran to the kitchen to retrieve a machete.

He brandished the weapon and the men ran away in a panic.

“One of them collided with another and he hurt himself from a fall,” the release stated.

Surabaya police officers then visited the scene and took dozens of students living in the dormitory to police headquarters for questioning.

But by Thursday, the students had returned to the dorm, and none of them were taken into custody.

“As many as 48 students have been returned to the dorm,” said Surabaya police criminal unit chief Senior Comrmander Sudamiran. He said the police would first gather evidence about the injured man.

Indonesian flag
After the clash, local residents of Jl. Kalasan eventually raised Indonesia’s flag in front of the dormitory, named Kemasan III.

Separately, during the orientation event for freshmen at Cendrawasih University in Jayapura, Papua, on August 14 and 15, senior students required the freshmen to chant free Papua slogans and bring Morning Star attributes to the campus.

The Morning Star refers to the flag used by the Papuan independence movement.

During the opening ceremony of the event, the seniors reportedly prohibited the freshmen from singing Jakarta’s national anthem, “Indonesia Raya”.

The university’s rector, Apolo Safanpo, confirmed the incident, accusing some people of imposing their “political motives” on the orientation event.

“The intruders required the freshmen to bring Morning Star attributes and chant slogans contrary to Indonesia’s ideology,” Apolo said, adding that the orientation events had been halted.

Meanwhile, Jayapura police chief Senior Commander Gustav Urbinas said the use of Morning Star attributes could be linked to treason, and therefore he had called Cendrawasih University student executive body chairman Ferry Kombo and the chairman of orientation events Agus Helembo to the police headquarters.

‘Asked for explanations’
“We asked for some explanations about the use of Morning Star attributes and the chanting of free Papua slogans,” Agus said.

Both of the students had signed a statement citing that they would not let the same incident happen again at their university, or else they would be prosecuted for “treason”.

A prominent youth figure in Papua, Samuel Tabuni, who is also the director of the Papua Language Institute, said what happened at Cendrawasih University was the students’ “spontaneous action to show their intention to create a future that is free from all threats”.

According to a 2018 Amnesty International report titled “‘Don’t bother, just let him die’: Killing with impunity in Papua”, unlawful killings by security forces remains high in Papua even after the 1998 reform began.

Amnesty International has recorded 69 cases of alleged unlawful killings between January 2010 and February, with 95 victims. Eighty-five of them were native Papuans, the report said.

The Jakarta Post provides an Indonesian perspective on events in West Papua.

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Green co-leader slams human rights ‘obscenity’ over West Papua

Green Party co-leader … “We are standing in solidarity with women leaders of indigenous movements around the world and around the Pacific.” Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

By Rahul Bhattarai in Auckland

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson last night condemned the “obscenity” of jailing West Papuans by Indonesian authorities for raising their Morning Star flag of independence.

Speaking at the launch of the West Papua solidarity “desk” at the First Union community office in Onehunga, Davidson said she was upholding the party’s long standing solidarity for the indigenous Melanesians in their search for self-determination and independence.

About 25 people supporting the cause of West Papua gathered at the event in a bid to raise awareness in New Zealand over the ongoing issue of human rights violations in West Papua by the Indonesian government.

“It’s a privilege to launch the desk because we need to continue to do the work to raise awareness and to stand in solidarity with the people of West Papua,” Davidson said.

Davidson, along with the cultural group Oceania Interrupted, are creating an activist action of performance to “disturb” public places to help raise awareness as Maori and Pacific women of the Pacific.

“We are standing in solidarity with women leaders of indigenous movements around the world and around the Pacific,” she said.

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Davidson has also asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to account and to raise the human rights issues.

Indonesia has just been elected to the UN Security Council for a two-year term.

Facing imperialism
Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said that this was a “solidarity movement for both the people of Pacific and across the world – it’s part of the imperialism that people are experiencing”.

She added that the people of West Papua were facing militarised oppression by the Indonesian government in order to seize their resources.

“West Papuan culture and heritage is violently suppressed for access to their natural minerals,” she said.

Human rights and peace activist Marie Leadbeater, author of the forthcoming book See No Evil, said that West Papua was a close Melanesian neighbour which had been under Indonesian control since 1963 against the will of Papuan people.

She said: “They were promised self-determination and an opportunity to become an independent nation, the same as other independent nations in the Pacific.”

That promise had not yet been fulfilled and as a result the West Papuan people had been resisting or campaigning, which came at a huge price, including the loss of thousands of lives due to the conflict with the Indonesian government.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Natuman makes dig at US big business in historic West Papuan ‘home’ event

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Natuman makes dig at US big business in historic West Papuan ‘home’ event

A jubilant crowd marches to the historic Crow’s Nest on a summit topping Port Vila, the new home of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua. Image: Screenshot/Vanuatu Daily Post

By Dan McGarry, media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post

“We are all Melanesian,” says Vanuatu Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman. “We are family. We regard it as an obligation to help one another.”

Natuman recounted the history of West Papua from post-World War II days at the Morning Star flag-raising ceremony in Port Vila on Friday, remarking at the end that the struggle for independence was not only a struggle against colonialism, but a struggle against corporate and commercial interests too.

Papua’s Morning Star and Vanuatu flags flying together at the Crow’s Nest in Port Vila. Image: Screenshot/AWPA

“It’s not just Sukarno and Suharto, it’s also American big business that’s involved,” Natuman said. “We’re not just fighting colonial powers. It’s big business too.”

This is the first time a senior figure in the Vanuatu government has publicly criticised the United States and its mining interests in relation to the issue of West Papuan independence.

The nation’s sense of duty in helping to make all of Melanesia free was made manifest when the government of Vanuatu on Friday officially transferred the historic Crow’s Nest building to the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

Friday, December 1, marked the 56th year since the Morning Star flag of independence was flown for the first time in 1961 while Papua was still a Dutch colony.

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The ULMWP building will be shared with local creative collective Further Arts.

Lifelong supporter
Natuman is a lifelong supporter of West Papuan independence.

He was the first speaker in the ceremony marking the official opening of the West Papuan mission in Vanuatu.

He was joined by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu, Parliamentary Secretaries Johnny Koanapo and Andrew Napuat, as well as the President of the Malvatumauri, the head of the Vanuatu Christian Council and dozens of Vanuatu-based independence activists.

This week also marked the annual conclave of the ULMWP leadership, along with senior militants as well.

Internationally known figures Octovianus Mote, Benny Wenda and several other independence leaders were also present. Some declined to be identified or photographed due to fear of retaliation by Indonesian authorities or their proxies.

The day was nonetheless a happy one, and a few drops of rain were insufficient to quench the spirits of a movement that, for the first time in two generations, finally has a place to call home.

Asia Pacific Report has an arrangement with the Vanuatu Daily Post to republish articles.

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Papuan Morning Star flag raised in Auckland as Green MP says ‘speak up’

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Papuan Morning Star flag raised in Auckland as Green MP says ‘speak up’

The Morning Star flag-raising at Auckland’s Aotea Square yesterday. Video: Café Pacific

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The West Papuan Morning Star flag of independence – banned in Indonesia – has been raised on an official local government flagpole in Auckland’s Aotea Square as solidarity protests have been held around the Pacific.

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman, a defender of human rights, praised the flag-raising action yesterday when speaking to a small crowd of supporters including visiting international free speech advocates.

Retired Green MP Keith Locke, an outspoken supporter of West Papuans, with Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) executive director Malou Mangahas (left) and the Pacific Media Centre’s Del Abcede. Image: Cafe Pacific

“New Zealand has always led on these issues and in a very proud way,” she said.

She said to remain silent in the face of ongoing human rights violations in Papua by security forces amounted to “complicity”.

West Papua Action Auckland spokesperson Maire Leadbeater said it had been the first time official permission had been granted for the flag-raising on a flagpole in front of the central city Aotea Centre.

-Partners-

In Indonesia, protesters raising the Morning Star flag risk up to 15 years in jail.

200 arrested
Last year, more than 200 people were arrested in a flag-raising protest in the capital of Jakarta and authorities used water canon to quell the demonstration.

The Auckland flag-raising marked the 56th year since the Morning Star was first hoisted on 1 December 1961 alongside the flag of the Dutch colonial authorities before Indonesia invaded the territory.

The Auckland protest included Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and other participants at the Pacific Media Centre’s “Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific” event featuring West Papua held the night before at Auckland University of Technology.

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