After a 5000 km journey across land from Lake Eyre, the Freedom Flotilla is in Cairns preparing to embark on an unprecedented voyage by sea to West Papua.
A dedicated crew of Aboriginal elders, West Papuan refugees, film-makers, musicians, artists and activists have gathered in Cairns to make final preparations for the crossing of the Torres Strait and entry into Indonesian-occupied West Papua.
Having connected with Aboriginal communities from Lake Eyre and all along the East Coast, the cultural celebrations will be culminating with a ‘Rock the Boat’ concert at Culture Place on the 16th of August from 9pm. This concert is part of the journey’s mission of re-uniting the cultures of Aboriginal Australia and West Papua, whose lands where once joined during the last ice age.
“We were one people, we still are one people, we must up hold our cultural connection, the old land is calling us” says Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, an Arabunna elder of Lake Eyre.
Meanwhile attention is building as the crew leaves Australia for West Papua, a province where journalists and NGOs are refused entry, political dissenters are locked behind bars, and 500,000 locals have been killed since the Indonesian military invaded in 1962. A press conference will be held at the Cairns Cruising Yacht Squadron on the 15th August at 9am, alerting the world to the Flotilla’s peaceful mission and requesting safe passage into Indonesia.
“We’ve spoken to many locals throughout the entire journey and they are giving their full support to bring peace and stability to West Papua. We are acting as peace keepers to shine the light on the ongoing atrocities that are happening every day just across the Strait from Cape York”, said West Papuan activist Ronny Kareni.
“We’ve had fantastic reception in Cairns and would like to thank everyone for their support including the local indigenous peoples, Cairns Yacht Club and Digger Street Arts Collective. People here in Cairns understand the connections Australia shares across the Pacific.”
It’s a local connection making ripples across the world. As Federated Republic of West Papuan Minister Jacob Rumbiak says, “we work for world peace and justice, we start from our region, the Pacific.”
A celebration will take place at the Cairns Yacht Club for when the sailing fleet departs Cairns on Saturday 17 August, 7am – 10am.
Background on West Papua for journalists at http://westpapuabackground.wordpress.com
Izzy Brown: 0410 535 896