DFAT Brisbane Called to Act on Human Rights Abuses in West Papua

Supporters of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua from Byron Bay and Brisbane are converging at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 150 Charlotte St Brisbane at 11.30am on Monday September 2nd, 2013.

As the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua draws closer to its destination of Merauke, 2000 people in the city of Sorong held a service at a Protestant church to pray for their safe passage.   The church was surrounded by hundreds of police and armoured cars.  As they tried to hold a press conference outside the church,  4 people were arrested and detained for 24 hours.  The head of police in Sorong, Harry Goldernhard, confirmed to The Guardian that the arrestees will face charges of treason for raising the West Papuan Morning Star flag.

Boe Spearim Raising the Morning Star Flag

Boe Spearim Raising the Morning Star Flag at Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy

The charge carries a maximum 20 year jail sentence. According to Papuans Behind Bars, there are currently altleast 57 Papuans imprisoned as prisoners of conscience, jailed for simple acts of cultural and political expression. Despite this and documented extra-judicial killings and torture, Australia continues to fund, train and supply the Indonesian military and police

“Australia’s foreign policy is complicit in Indonesia’s genocidal military occupation  of West Papua.  This relates directly to mining projects by Australian companies Rio Tinto, BP and Freeport.” said Matthew Jamieson, spokesperson for the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human rights, “Militarism and mining drive the devastation of West Papua indigenous people, mountains and forests.”

The demonstration will gather to at DFAT to demand a response to this most recent injustice, as a blatant example of human rights abuses regularly carried out by Indonesian security forces in West Papua.

Demonstrators will also deliver a letter to the the Foreign Minister Bob Carr on behalf of a broad coalition of community leaders, politicians, unionists and churches leaders.  The letter states, “The Freedom Flotilla, as a peaceful journey re-uniting cultures and struggles of Australian and West Papuan indigenous peoples, is doing just what the Australian Government has been failing to do in relation to West Papua. On the Australia Security Council website it states, ‘Australia has much to contribute to the Security Council. We bring creativity, energy and a practical problem-solving ethos’. Now is the time for such a contribution”

The Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, which welcomed the Freedom Flotilla to Brisbane the 30th of July on their way to West Papua, will join the protest.

“Before 1788 we had a responsibility to look after and stand up for our countrymen, in 2013 we still hold that responsibility, now it’s a global responsibility to give a voice to the voiceless and to bring fire to darkness to warm the cold and raise flames of the fight for West Papua” said Boe Spearim, spokesperson for the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy.

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