ABOUT THE DAY
On the 17/01/2016 the community celebrated the cultural diversity of West Papua with a family friendly paddle on the beautiful Yarra River at Warrandyte.
The aims of the ‘Paddle For West Papua’ is to:
1) raise awareness on waterway health and the benefits of recreational paddling
2) celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the ‘Airo Dewohi’ arriving on Cape York on 17 January 2006.
Ten years ago to the day, (17.01.2006) 43 West Papuans (including seven children) landed safely on Cape York after paddling from West Papua in a traditional dugout canoe.
The reason for their paddle was to escape persecution from their West Papuan home lands, where the Indonesian military have been in control since 1962. During his time, as many as 500,000 West Papuans have been killed in a silent genocide that receives little media coverage from the outside world.
My name is Lober Wainggai
I’m from Serui Island West Papua
I came to Australia with 43 people in this traditional canoe
We came to tell people about the situation in West Papua
This boat is used for hunting and fishing and transportation
The journey was scary we could only travel in the night time We met our secret contacts to collect the petrol and food and had to keep moving so that we would not be caught by the Indonesian Military
I got on the boat in Sorong I am boat driver. It took 2 weeks to get to Merauke
Most people got on the boat there it was January 2006
We got lost for 4 days in ocean because the engine broke we had no food only a few banana for 43 people
The sea was rough little bit of rain and wind no sleeping we just sit holding on
17th January in the evening we arrived in Cape York , We put the boat in crocodile river and we slept on the beach.
The next afternoon journalist came by helicopter and immigration by car and took us to Weipa. Then we were taken to Christmas Island for 3months at the detention centre. We got refugee status TPV and were sent to Melbourne
Now I am living in Melbourne
The boat was confiscated by the Australian Navy