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 enter into Indonesian-occupied West Papua.
A press conference will be held at Cairns Yacht Club Boatshed, Marlin Marina, on August 15th 9-10am, alerting the world to the flotilla’s peaceful mission and requesting safe passage into West Papua.
Amos Wainggai, who first arrived in Australia as a refugee on Cape York by canoe in 2006, is a member of the flotilla crew and will be available for interview and comment.
Having connected broadly with Aboriginal communities from Lake Eyre to Cairns, the cultural celebrations will be culminating with a ‘Rock the Boat’ concert at Cultural Place on 16 August from 9pm-12. This concert is part of the journey’s mission of re-uniting first nations peoples of Australia and West Papua, whose lands once were joined before the process of colonisation and the ice melt 10, 000 years ago.
“We were one people, we still are one people, we must up hold our cultural connection, the old land is calling us” said Uncle Kevin Buzzacott, Arabunna elder from Lake Eyre.
At Marlin Marina, Saturday August 17, at 9am, the crew will set sail from Australia for West Papua, a province where journalists and international non-government organisations are refused entry, political dissenters are locked behind bars, and an estimated 500,000 locals have been killed since the Indonesian military invaded in 1962.
“We’ve spoke to many people from local grass roots communities 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 a strong reception in Cairns and would like to thank everyone for their support,”said Federated Republic of West Papua Foreign Minister Jacob Rumbiak, “We work for world peace and justice, we start from our region, the Pacific.”
Izzy Brown: 0410 535 896
Thursday 15th August, 9 – 10am: Press conference and media update on the sailing fleet,
Cairns Yacht Club Boatshed, Marlin Marina
Friday 16th August, 9pm – midnight: ‘Rock the Boat’ Freedom Flotilla concert featuring live acts ‘Siale’, ‘West Papuan String Band’, ‘Jekks’, ‘Allganiks’ and ‘Izzy and Freedom Flotilla Band’, Cultural Place, 94 – 98 Lake Street, Cairns
Saturday 17 August, 7am – 10am: Community breakfast celebration as the sailing fleet departs for West Papua, Cairns Yacht Club, next to Marlin Marina. Bring boats, canoes, kayaks to accompany Flotilla from the marina!
Monday 19 August, 9am: ‘Meet and greet the sailing fleet’, Cooktown Post Office