Once upon a time the land was joined. Australia, split from her children, the islands of Melanesia. Just below the surface of the sea that now divides us are hidden treasures, forgotten stories and deep cultural knowledge. As we sift through the sands of time, reconnecting ancient culture, we find story lines that reveal a deep connection between the lands and peoples.
Across the water from Australia’s northern shore lies the island of Papua. The indigenous peoples of these two lands share deep cultural and historical connections and common experiences of colonisation. In 1962, Indonesia invaded the western half of Papua. Since then as many as 500,000 West Papuans have died as the result of violence and poverty under the military occupation.
Yet the plight of the West Papuans remains hidden from Australian’s view by a massive military presence, a near-total ban on foreign journalists and NGOs, the interests of mining corporations and political indifference. The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua aims to overcome this divide, to reconnect the two ancient cultures, and to reveal the barriers that keep human rights abuses in West Papua from the attention of the international community.
We are inviting friends and family of all nations at the shores of Lake Eyre in July 2013 for a music festival celebrating the survival of the old country. We will stand strong to make an action of creative resistance against the destruction caused by multinational mining companies on this land.
From there we will follow the dreaming story of the water from the Lake Eyre basin to its source, the land of our brothers and sisters in West Papua. Ancient water collected from the sacred mound springs of Arabunna country, and ashes from the fires of Lake Eyre and the Aboriginal Tent Embassies across Australia will be carried across the country in a convoy of artists, musicians, activists and Indigenous ambassadors from Australia and West Papua. These offerings of peace and justice will be taken on a flotilla of boats from Cairns to West Papua, as a symbol of support for freedom and justice for West Papuan people.
Currently in West Papua military repression has intensified with the proclamation of the Federated Republic of West Papua, increasing mass mobilisations organised by the West Papuan National Committee (KNPB), and the escalating resistance to foreign rule by West Papuan society as a whole. The targeting of human and environmental rights groups has intensified since KNPB leader Mako Tabuni was assassinated in June 2012. Australian Government funded and trained military have been responsible for such illegal killings and torture of West Papuans, who are simply expressing their right to self-determination.
The time has come to take international action, to take responsibility for our complicity in these injustices, and recognize the humanity we share is more important than the military and economic interests of our governments and corporations. The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua will break down the borders imposed by colonisation and capitalism and reunite two peoples separated by the sea.