Today a group of Aboriginal Elders reasserted their sovereign authority to issue Original Nations Passports to Freedom Flotilla participants and travel peacefully to West Papua. All Freedom Flotilla participants are traveling with Australian Original Nations Passports and West Papuan visa stamps issued by West Papuan political leaders.
The Australian Government is supporting military intervention against the Freedom Flotilla, with Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop going further and endorsing ‘any means’ to suppress the flotilla, while the Indonesian Minister Djoko Suyanto prepares to deploy airforce and naval response against the group.
“Aboriginal Passports are a form of customs for our people, acknowledging the indigenous people of Australia as the original people of this country. The Freedom Flotilla are using their Aboriginal Passports to travel to West Papua and they should be allowed to do so unhindered and safely”, indigenous activist Robby Thorpe said from Melbourne today.
Senior Tauwurrung Elder Uncle Larry Walsh said from Seymour Victoria today, “Aboriginal people have a long history of standing up for oppressed nations and people; in the 1930s we supported Jewish people in Germany when no-one else would, we supported the East Timorese in their struggle for independence, South Africans against apartheid, and now we are supporting the struggle of the indigenous people of West Papua as our closest neighbour, with our history of trade and distant relatives there, we have an obligation to support their cause. Aboriginal Passports are a legitimate way for the Freedom Flotilla to make that journey”.
Before the commencement of the Freedom Flotilla, Aboriginal passports were issued by Uncle Larry Walsh, indigenous activist Robby Thorpe and Uncle Kevin Buzzacott to Flotilla participants in a ceremony held at Victorian Trades Hall on the 1st of June 2013.
In the late 1980s Tasmanian Aboriginal activist Michael Mansel introduced the Aboriginal Passports following the National Aboriginal Congress position in the 1970s that indigenous Australians were not being treated with equal rights, and needed their own passports to recognise this and the fact that indigenous people in Australia have never ceded their sovereignty.
Robby Thorpe stated, “Aboriginal Passports represent a Global Safe Travel document; indigenous people of Australia have never invaded or attacked another country, Aboriginal people represent peace and these passports represent a connection between indigenous people around the world who have suffered at the hands of colonisation.”
He continued, “Who’s borders are these anyway? Why should we require the white mans documents to travel to West Papua? Our lands were once connected, our cultures entwined for thousands of years, we don’t need authority from Australia or Indonesia to do as we have always done. Aboriginal Passports are a real statement about our land, our identity, our lore. Australia and Indonesia can live the lie, but we the indigenous people don’t subscribe to that”.