Freedom Flotilla making waves across the region

Participants of the Freedom Flotilla along with a broad coalition of supporters today re- affirmed their right to sail across the Torres Strait under the flags of Aboriginal Australia, the Torres Strait, and West Papua, as they have done since departure from Lake Eyre in June.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has washed his hands of responsibility to ensure the human rights and just treatment of the Flotilla’s participants stating that the Freedom Flotilla will receive “no consular assistance whatsoever if they are jailed”, however this position is unaligned with his own Department’s Consular Secretary documentation stating (20/8/13), “If you are arrested or jailed you will be entitled to the normal consular assistance available to Australians”.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra protested at Bob Carr’s office today sending this statement in a media release, “Senator Carr and his government need reminding of Australia’s obligations to respect and defend Human Rights as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The Pog set sail last night under the full moon

The Pog set sail last night under the full moon, Photo Jeevika Rajagopal

“The world has been watching closely how Australia mishandles Asylum Seekers, the ‘Manus Island affair’, and now we see an unwarranted attack on the democratic and human rights of peaceful unarmed people aboard a small Australian registered vessel,” they stated.

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has say that the Indonesian military may use “whatever means it wishes” to stop the peaceful flotilla, which Indonesian Government statements reported in the Guardian indicate will involve jet fighters, naval vessels, and lethal force has not been ruled out.

Meanwhile in Papua New Guinea, Provincial Police Commander Silver Sika told Islands Business via NBC today “Police in the province, will not allow the raising of the West Papuan flag” considered a “mark of independence” for West Papuan people.

Raising the flag West Papuan Morning Star Flag, a symbol of the Free West Papua movement, is banned in West Papua. Flag raisings have been violently repressed, with charge of treasons and massacres being perpetrated against Papuans who have continued to raise it since their country was invaded in 1962.

“No matter whether in Australia, Papua New Guinea, or Indonesia, freedom of expression is a universal human right. You don’t have to agree that West Papua must be Independent to acknowledge that. This is a legitimate and peaceful activity and we should not be restricted in this visual show of support for the West Papuan people” said Freedom Flotilla organiser Izzy Brown.

DLP Senator John Madigan also sent his support for the Freedom Flotilla in a media release questioning the Shadow Foreign Minister’s “grossly irresponsible remarks that effectively give a green light for the Indonesian military to commit a massacre” in a media release yesterday.

As the world watches the reaction of security forces to the peaceful mission, the Freedom Flotilla’s flagship, The Pog has re-joined its fleet this afternoon and will now proceed as planned on its journey north to West Papua.

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