Amnesty International has today joined with the Freedom Flotilla in demanding that charges of treason against four West Papuan community leaders be dropped. The four where arrested on August 28th 2013 for raising a flag after a congregation to pray for the Flotilla. Both Amnesty International and the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua denounce the charges of treason being made against a peaceful expresssions of opinion.
Gathering to pray, raising the Morning Star flag, and the verbal expression of a desire for independence under interrogation, cannot form grounds for treason in a democratic society, and is a tragic example of the oppression and violence the West Papuan people live with daily.
Australian politicians need to acknowledge that they are playing an active role in that oppression. Our Government is deeply involved and accountable for the suffering of the West Papuan people.
Australia profits from the Freeport Mine and Australian tax payer’s fund military operations in West Papua. We cannot continue to turn our backs on the consistent and credible reports of extra judicial killings, rape, torture, imprisonment of political prisoners, and violence committed against people who are non-violent and expressing a political view.
We recall in particular the violence at the Third Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011, when the Indonesia military opened fire on those peacefully gathered killing atleast six people and injuring dozens more. Reports of the involvement of Detachment 88, the counter-terror unit within the Indonesian military, in acts of violent suppression of peaceful demonstrators is a shameful association, given the Australian training and funding relationship with that arm of the military.
The Freedom Flotilla is taking the responsible path of recognising our shared links, our history, and our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in West Papua, who are suffering under the military regime and are having the land and resources torn away from them without regard for their humanity.
The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is a non-violent, peaceful action of creativity, sharing and cultural expression, and no one associated with the Flotilla should be treated as a criminal. We express great sorrow that our brothers and sisters, who have came together to pray for us in our journey, should suffer in any way, and will do our utmost to advocate for their safety and for recognition of their fundamental human rights.
Despite major engine troubles on Trudy, one of the boats on the Flotilla, we are committed to continue on with our journey to expose the military blockade that has kept West Papuan’s voices from the world for far to long.