About 25 West Papuans, along with a number of supporters, gathered outside the GPO in Bourke Street before making their way along the Mall with song and dance to the Nike store on Swanston Street, where all got on board a tram down Swanston Street and St Kilda Road, ending at the Indonesian Consulate General on Queens Road. The consulate building appeared to be quite lifeless apart from the police in a van outside, and after a brief stop people moved across the road to where preparations had been made for raising the West Papuan flag (there is a low-resolution video clip in the Comments section of the Melbourne Indymedia posting). The grass was strewn with white crosses to commemorate the tens of thousands of victims of Indonesian oppression. Speakers at this point included Herman Wainggai and Jacob Rumbiak, and there was a message of thanks relayed direct from the resistance in West Papua, where protests also were planned for the coming days.
While at the GPO, members of Australian Free West Papua Association handed out miniature ‘Morning Star’ flags – raising the West Papuan flag in West Papua is an offence carrying a 15-year jail term – and a booklet ‘West Papua: An issue whose time has come’ explaining the background to the struggle and calling on Australians to support their neighbours, the people of the West Papua, as they did for the people of East Timor.
From the Free West Papuan movement:
[This rally is called to] protest against the continued human rights abuses in West Papua – and to mark the 44 years that have [passed] since the New York Agreement was made by the US, the Hague and Indonesia in 1962.
The New York Agreement was broken when the Act of Free Choice was rorted by Indonesian military repression and a compliant United Nations.
Papuans were never consulted, their land was destroyed by logging and mining while the rivers ran red with their blood.
August 15 will be a reminder that no matter how many West Papuans are killed, we will not forget that there was never an ‘Act of Free Choice’, the Papuans were given ‘No choice’ and thus their land has been illegally occupied by Indonesian security forces, who have employed genocidal tactics to maintain a stranglehold on West Papua.
Stand up for West Papua.
Stand with West Papuans against genocide and torture
Stand up for peace in our region.
The referendum was supposed to be an ‘Act of Free choice’, but West Papuans call it the ‘Act of NO choice’: less than 0.2% of the population were selected by the Indonesian authorities and allowed to vote …