The crew of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, a journey by sea to Indonesian – occupied West Papua, send a message of solidarity to those who have inspired us by leading the way in creative acts of resistance on the oceans.
As we respect our elders, who have cared for the land while also resisting genocidal colonial regimes, we extend our respect to Indigenous peoples across the globe, and those finding new ways to resist long histories of oppression.
The Flotilla to West Papua is a re-unification of the Indigenous peoples of the West Papua and Australia, two peoples whose lands and cultures were once joined, and are now joining together in common struggle. Long before the colonial era, the Pacific islands including Australia were tied together by trade routes and migrations, song lines and culture.
Today, we seek to revive these connections by setting out across the sea for West Papua, which is cut off by a massive military presence and blockade against journalists and NGOs.
In 1992, a similar action took place, where the Lusitania Expresso set out from Portugal to Indonesian occupied Timor Leste. The crew intended to lay a wreath at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, following the massacre of mourners attending a funeral in 1991. Coming with their offering of peace, they were blockaded by the Indonesian navy and unable to land in Timor. However the events following the Santa Cruz massacre proved to be a critical turning point on Timor’s road to independence, building international awareness and solidarity from people who were prepared to put their lives on the line for Timor’s freedom.
In 2008, 2010 and 2011 activists from around the Mediteranean and the world sailed in flotillas to Gaza in Palestine. Beginning with just a few old vessels on the first voyage, the initial act of direct solidarity set off a wave of further flotillas, with hundreds making the journey to fight for a freedom and justice in Palestine. Coming up against a military blockade, which prevents not only free access but trade and aid supplies to residents of Gaza, the flotillas’ boats were sabotaged and boarded by the Israeli military who killed several of the activists on board. The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua owes much to these precursors who have created waves across the oceans.
Through the connections between our peoples and our struggles we can create new bonds of solidarity that cross borders, racial and religious divisions. We are inventing new forms of protest that mobilise the power of this shared belief. We form part of an unstoppable global movement that continues to inspire others as the previous Freedom Flotillas have done.