Lake Eyre to West Papua – Land and Sea Convoy for Peace and Justice – July/August 2013

This site has hitherto confined itself to reporting events that have taken place; exceptionally, therefore, this is advance notice of an event in preparation:

LAKE EYRE to WEST PAPUA
Land and Sea Convoy for Peace and Justice
Looking at the ancient ways to find the new beginnings…

…Once upon a time the land was joined, Australia the big mother split from her children the islands of Melanesia. Just below the surface of the sea that now divides us are the hidden treasures of forgotten stories and cultural knowledge as we sift through the sands of time, reconnecting ancient culture, finding the story lines that reveal a deep connection with the land and people,
Water is life, follow the dreaming story of the water from the Lake Eyre basin to our brothers’ and sisters’ land in West Papua.
We have a duty of care, the People of West Papua are suffering.

“…We have a responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters from across the water, we must bring the water and the fire, the love and the music to heal the country as we move in solidarity. We were one people, we still are one people, we must hold our cultural connection, the old land is calling us…”
(Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, Arabunna Elder)

Calling on all our friends and families of all nations to join us at the shores of Lake Eyre for a music festival to celebrate the survival of the old country and to stand strong to make an action of creative resistance against the apartheid of colonization and destruction caused by multinational mining companies on this land.
From the shores of the Lake, we will follow the underground water across “Australia” in a freedom-ride convoy of artists, musicians, activist, Original Sovereigns and Indigenous ambassadors from Australia and West Papua that carry the ancient water collected from the sacred mount springs of Arabunna country, the fire from the old Lake Eyre and ashes from Aboriginal tent embassies across Australia. These offerings of peace and justice will be taken on a flotilla as a symbol to support the freedom and justice for West Papuan people.
Looking at the ancient ways to find the new beginnings..

By foot or by car, by bus or canoe, by ship or by song, by dance or by spirit you are invited to join us…

Philosophy: Recognise the rights of indigenous people and their connection to land and water.
Recognise (ab)Original Sovereignty and West Papua Independence

Human rights and Environmental justice is a struggle that belongs to all humanity.
That’s us! With that knowledge we must proceed with strength dedication and fine music xx

How you can get involved:
COME!
Donate a BOAT!!
Host an event in your town or port along the way!
Donate time energy and/or money xx
Spread the word
Write a song and sing it loud

Donate to
Lizards Revenge
Bsb: 633 000
Acc: 145823688
Please label your donation ‘Land and Sea’ Please contact us if you would like a receipt for your donation

This is just the beginning so spread the word, keep your eyes peeled and be ready to strike!

Feel free to join us anywhere along the way
This is a rough itinerary – open to suggestion and subject to change so stay in touch.

Lake Eyre 20th-25th July

20th Set up camp
21st Welcome Ceremony/party Alberrie Creek Station
22nd Mound Spring and Lake Eyre tour
23rd Day of Action against the nuclear cycle (BYO action plans)
24th Farewell Ceremony/concert

25th Pack and Drive- camp near Coober Pedy
26th Camp near Marla or go straight to Alice

Alice Springs 27th-30th July
27th Alice Springs- Concert/movie/info night
30th Alice Springs -get supplies

31st Tennant Creek
Any suggestions for western QLD?

Drive to Cairns and get boats ready
10th August Film info night
12th to 15th August Flotilla launch

There are also more fundraising campaigns planned – benefit gigs in Sydney, Melbourne and possibly Darwin as well as internet crowd funding so keep an eye out.

Other Event Ideas- dates to be announced
1.Canberra Tent Embassy .. ashes
2. Aboriginal passport issuing and West Papua visa stamps – Melbourne Aboriginal Embassy- May
3.Lake Eyre ceremony and concert-associated actions- 20th July
4.Concerts and/or film nights in host towns on land route, collecting ashes and water
5.Launching of the boats raising of WP, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Flags- Cairns, August
4.Concerts and/or film nights in host towns on sea route
5.West Papua concert for peace and culture

The background to this story started many years ago when Uncle Kevin met elders from West Papua at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra; it was there that a connection was formed on both a cultural level and in the common struggle for land rights. Uncle Kev wants to let the Papuan People know that we recognise their sovereign right and that the indigenous struggles of both lands are interconnected. He came up with the idea for a cultural journey from his country to West Papua to draw attention to this struggle.
The campaign is not only addressing indigenous rights, it has a big environmental focus, beginning with Olympic Dams nuke and water issues then to Freeport mine in West Papua with land and water contamination. The mound springs around the lake Eyre region are sacred sites for the Arabunna people, the Artesian Basin that feeds the mound springs. The mound springs have been affected by the mining operations at Olympic Dam. There is a cultural connection via these ancient lands and waters that brought these stories together.
We are hoping to bring the vision into fruition mid this year, there has been a lot of interest in the event so far and a lot still to organise. Please share the idea with your networks.
Much love peace and fine adventures… c u out there

http://www.facebook.com/events/170955086380426/?ref=ts&fref=ts

The poster reproduced above is for one of the fundraising events organised in Melbourne. Others are planned for May 16th and June 1st*:

*Details TBA: see http://freedomflotillawestpapua.org/events/melbourne/ See also http://www.pozible.com/project/14169

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Free Political Prisoners in West Papua – rally at Indonesian Consulate, Melbourne, 8 April 2011

Protesters with banners outside Consulate gates

The Morning Star flew in front of the Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne this morning as members of the West Papua community and supporters gathered to demand the release of political prisoners and an end to torture and repression.

Banner - Free West Papua

The particular focus of the action was the case of Filep Karma, sentenced in May 2005 to 15 years imprisonment for treason – see this Amnesty USA video on YouTube :

(http://www.amnestyusa.org/individuals-at-risk/priority-cases/indonesia-filep-karma/page.do?id=1101238)

Filep Karma, Prisoner of Conscience
Filep Karma @ ELSHAM Filep Karma is serving 15 years in prison for raising a flag. A prominent advocate for the rights of Indonesia’s Papuan population, Filep Karma was arrested for taking part in a peaceful ceremony on December 1, 2004, which included the raising of the Morning Star flag, a symbol of Papuan independence…

Amnesty International considers Filep Karma to be a prisoner of conscience who has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful and legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Amnesty is concerned at reports that Mr. Karma has been beaten by guards and has experienced serious health problems in prison. The organization calls on the Indonesian government to free Filep Karma and all other prisoners of conscience.

There was no sign of life at the Consulate beyond the presence of these three …

Police and AFP official inside grounds, 'Papua Merdeka!' banner in driveway

But there was plenty of life outside. The West Papuans as always took to expressing their feelings in song, and passing traffic responded to the appeals with much loud honking – Queens Road is a major thoroughfare and there were a lot of trucks going past.

West Papuans with Morning Star flag singing outside gate

There is to be a West Papua film night next Friday at 7.30pm(April 15) at Kindness House, 288 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – see notice on Indymedia Calendar.

Holding up the Morning Star flag outside the Consulate gates

LIneup outside the Consulate

End Mandatory Detention – Rally and March 7 November 2010

Banner at head of march - End Mandatory Detention

Several hundred people took part in a rally and march organised by the Refugee Advocacy Network to demand an end to the policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat. MC Pamela Curr introduced a series of strong speakers, including a late addition to the list in the person of Malalai Joya, former member of the Parliament of Afghanistan now in exile:

Malalai Joya speaking

Her speech can be heard in full in this YouTube video:

Other speakers included Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:

Sarah Hanson-Young

Amongst other things Senator Hanson-Young said we are not yet anywhere near bringing in a more humane approach to dealing with the needs of asylum seekers. Although the government has now admitted that it does detain children and has undertaken to start to release them ‘over time’, this was a good start, ‘but nowhere near where we need to be.’ She recalled how she came to politics in 2001 over this issue, and with the election of the labor government in 2007 had thought she needed to look for another focus: ‘But since 2007 we have learned pretty quickly that promises are broken.’
She referred to the recent visit of Opposition leader Tony Abbot to Adelaide ‘to whip up fear around having a detention facility that would house families in the Adelaide hills.’ She did not believe there should be mandatory detention at all, ‘but I also do not believe that whipping up fear around the idea of having asylum
seekers in the Adelaide hills … is a responsible thing for a leader to do.’ It was time to take the politics out of it [this issue], there needed to be a consensus of all parties ‘that making politics out of the lives of vulnerable people is not right, it shouldn’t bring you votes, and we all should be a bit bigger than that…’

Next was Michele O’Neil, State Secretary, TCFUA – a union much involved with migrant women in particular:

Michele O'Neil

‘The union that I represent has a proud history of having within its ranks , within its membership, many many people that arrived in Australia as refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.’ But it was not just the TCFUA which benefitted from this diversity, rather the whole country, ‘because the workers of Australia are a migrant people who have joined with our Indigenous population to create the land we have today.’ It was therefore an extraordinary thing that we should be having this debate about how to treat current arrivals when so many of our ancestors, families and neighbours arrived in similar ways. She emphasised the need for a total ban on mandatory detention, notr piecemeal changes to policy. She acknowledged the positive step of the recent announcement about releasing children, but stressed that it was not due to take effect immediately, but by the middle of 2011, and applied only to ‘the majority’. What was there to be fearful of that it should take so long? And what did it mean to say ‘the majority’ rather than all? And the terms under which these people were to be released did not allow them to work, move freely, or choose where to live. ‘This is not living in the community in an normal sense,’ not even a return to the position pre-1993. ‘It is still a very small change to what is a fundamentally unjust and unfair system.’ And why was it needed? What was
driving the fear, paranoia and xenophobia? She read some of the facts regarding the numbers seeking asylum in Australia compared to the rest of the world, eg that in 2009 Australia received 0.6% of asylum seekers worldwide; that of 377,160 applications in 44 industrialised countries Australia received only 6170, which was 1.6%. So ‘this fear is based on inaccurate information and myth …. people that want to divide the people of this country instead of bringing us together.’ And this is also, this is an issue which she and her union care about and speak about: ‘We care about it because it is about the same fundamental issues – if you care about fighting for justice, if you care about people’s rights, if you care about the right for people in the workplace to be treated with dignity and respect and to be safe, you have to care about how it is that we treat people who are fleeing some of the worst and most terrible situations that you can imagine, looking for refuge, looking for asylum, who arrive in our land and who we then lock up…’

Pamela Curr read a message from Tamil refugees still detained in Indonesia (see media release from the support group RISE) in a centre paid for by Australian taxpayers (this message is posted as MP3 on Melbourne Indymedia), before introducing Malalai Joya – see above – who was followed by Hong Lim, State Labor MP and representative at the rally of the Indo-Chinese community:

Hong Lim speaking

He had come to Australia as a refugee from Cambodia 40 years ago ‘at a time when everybody was so caring and sharing, but 40 years later I must say that some people will try to break that tradition.’ He referred to the post-WWII arrival of more than one million refugees – ‘ask the Jewish community here’ – and the generosity of Austrlians in raising proportionately more than seven times as much in donations to help Cambodian refugees than the British at the time. But now in BRitain there are more than 80,000 asylum seekers and refugees, ‘and here we 4000 and some people jumping up and down complaining’ with talk of an ‘invasion’. He suggested people should look at Springvale, Richmond and Footscray ‘to see what the
Indo-Chinese [refugees] have proven themselves’. They contribute significantly to the economy and are the link to China, Vietnam and so on. We could not allow politicians to poison our minds, our traditions, our customs, our honour any more ‘We must fight them every inch of the way, because they are wrong. They are wrong.’

Brian Walters SC, Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne, was the last of the speakers before the march:

Brian Walters speaking

He began his address with the words ‘My fellow boat people’ and the opening words of the national
anthem: ‘Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and [pause] free…’ This was one of the values we proclaim, a love for freedom ‘and when people take is at our word, fleeing unimaginable persecution, and come here asking for our help … we lock them up in mental illness factories in remote places behind razor
wire.’ We also value the rule of law, but have decided that it does not apply to whole areas of the country – the excised regions. He was scornful of those who talk about ‘border protection’ – ‘as if people coming wanting the protection of our borders threaten [them].’ ‘When people come across the sea they bring with
them boundless riches that we can share. They enrich our community and what a great day it will be when we end this evil misery of mandatory detention, which is such a stain on our nation [applause]. And then we can really sing that we can “advance Australia fair”‘.

There followed a march down Swanston Street to Federation Square:

Gilios speaking at Federation Square

Gilios, himself a West Papuan refugee, spoke of the work of RISE, an organisation supporting Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, but first asking for a minute’s silence in memory of a young member of his community who had been killed in a car accident a few days before….

Sister Brigid speaking

Last speaker was Sister Brigid Arthur of the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, who described her visits to young Hazaras in the little-known Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre and families in the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. Her address, which was very compelling, is available as an MP3 on Melbourne Indymedia.

The rally ended with an emphatic statement of the core demand, followed by a lineup of banners:

Lineup on steps at Federation Square