A group of Australian and West Papuan activists will set sail from Cairns on Saturday for the Indonesian territory of West Papua, despite fears they could face arrest or worse for arriving in the country illegally.
The West Papuan Freedom Flotilla will make the trip to highlight the abuses faced by West Papuans under Indonesian rule. It is estimated that as many as 500,000 Papuans have been killed since Indonesia acquired the territory in the 1960s.
Approximately 50 people will take turns crewing at least two yachts up the east coast of Australia, through the Torres Strait and on to Papua New Guinea, from where they hope to make the trip to Merauke on the southern coast of Papua.
Participants include Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott and West Papuan leader Jacob Rumbiak and has been described by organisers as an Indigenous cultural exchange.
But one of the participants acknowledges that the trip is also a potentially deadly act of resistance.