Freedom Flotilla Continues Call for Dialogue

The Pog has now crossed into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone and is continuing attempts to open dialogue with the Navy Command in their destination port Merauke, West Papua.

The Indonesian military is yet to rule out the use of lethal force against the peaceful protest, who have re-iterated the non-violent nature of their protest to officials in the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta and the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, in communications via sms, phone calls, emails, and an envoy from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

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Freedom Flotilla completes sacred mission

Evading the Indonesian navy, two tiny boats met near the Australia-Indonesia border to ceremonially reconnect the indigenous peoples of Australia and West Papua. The ceremony was the pinnacle of a 5000km journey beginning in Lake Eyre, in which sacred water and ashes were carried and presented to West Papuan leaders.

While the Freedom Flotilla’s flagship the Pog sailed towards West Papua, the world watched its progress via a live satellite tracker onboard the vessel, providing a much needed distraction for the clandestine ceremony to take place in an undisclosed location off the south coast of Papua.

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The cultural exchange of Indigenous elders was held in secret, due to threats made by Indonesian government ministers and military officials who had stated that the navy and air-force would “take measures” against the peaceful protest, and had not ruled out the use of lethal force. Soon to be Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had also stated that Indonesia may do “whatever it wishes” to stop the peaceful protest.

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We Are Unarmed

One small yacht, the Pog, has set sail west from Thursday Island towards West Papua. Her crew, a dedicated group of six from Australia, New Zealand, Kenya and West Papua are determined to complete their mission to build global solidarity and highlight the abuses of human rights and land rights carried out under the Indonesian occupation of West Papua.

Freedom Flotilla co-founder Izzy Brown responded to statements made to Fairfax yesterday by Captain Goeroh Ardianto, Indonesian Navy Spokesperson suggesting that the Freedom Flotilla may potentially be armed, “We come in peace, bearing no arms. We have been absolutely clear about this from the beginning of our journey at the sacred mound springs of Lake Eyre in Arabunna country. We are letting them know our location via our satellite tracker which is available for the world to see up on our website.”

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Freedom Flotilla Makes Sail for West Papua as Military Amass in Merauke and Daru

The Freedom Flotilla’s flagship the Pog is set to sail for West Papua on this morning’s tide. A military buildup in the Flotilla’s destination port of Merauke has been confirmed, with 2500 troops having arrived on the 28th of August to bolster numbers at the Indonesian border.

Undeterred, the core crew of activists have committed themselves to carrying out their peaceful mission to conduct a ceremony sharing the Sacred Waters from the mound springs of Lake Eyre, and the ashes of Sacred Fires from Aboriginal Tent Embassies across Australia.

The additional troops are suspected to have been deployed to crack down on welcome ceremonies planned for the Freedom Flotilla. Locals from across Merauke district gathered on the 28th of August as the military reinforcements sailed into harbour, preparing garlands of flowers to welcome the Indigenous elders and crew to their land.

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On the same day, four organisers of a congregation held in Sorong to pray for the safety of the Freedom Flotilla were arrested and charged with treason.

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‘Vote 4 Boats’: Calls to Join the Freedom Flotilla and Rise Refugee in an Act of Creative Resistance

On Saturday the 7th of September 2013, Australia will go to the polls to elect a new Prime Minister from one of two major parties. Both party’s policies treat seeking asylum as a crime, and will continue funding the Indonesian military making them complicit in violence in West Papua.

Vote4BoatsThe Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, and Rise Refugee, Australia’s first refugee and asylum seeker run aid and advocacy organisation, are calling on all people who caste their vote for the rights of refugees and West Papuans to join with them in a creative act of resistance by folding their how-to-vote cards into boats at polling booths around the country.

Ronny Kareni, Flotilla organiser who grew up in Papua New Guinea as a refugee from West Papua, told Rise Refugee about the situation of the existing refugees in PNG, before Kevin Rudds plan to banish boat-arrivals there in Manus Island Detention Centre. “12,000 West Papuan refugees who have settled in PNG since the 1980′s are still being treated as a second-class citizen and border-crossers. Most Papuan refugees have not been recognised by PNG authorities as permanent residents or citizens but instead some have been given ‘permissive resident’ status, even though they are born in PNG. Furthermore, many Papuan refugees in Port Moresby live in limbo with resettlement issues even today.

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Indigenous Custodians to Present at Customs.

Freedom Flotilla participants will today visit the Australian Customs Office on Thursday Island to inform them of the groups next undertakings and ask customs to pass on their request for safe passage to West Papua to the Australian government. Izzy Brown stated,

“We hope we can work together with the government towards a peaceful resolution to the situation in West Papua. We need to start the conversation.”

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Amnesty Joins Calls to “Drop the Charges” against the Freedom Flotilla Four

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.

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International Support Swells across the Oceans

The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua has arrived at Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. The smallest yacht in the fleet, Trudy sustained engine damage near Escape River in the Cape York Peninsula two days ago, however was able to be towed safely to Thursday Island late yesterday by the Wia-O-Tira.

Francis Janssen, from the Netherlands, has flown across the world as a show of solidarity from Free Moluku groups in the Netherlands, also joined the group this week on Thursday Island.

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The participants on the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua now include indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, West Papuans, a New Zealander, a Kenyan man, an Indian woman and Francis from the Netherlands. The eclectic group of unlikely comrades on this history-making journey comprises Elders, leaders and refugees, sailors, musicians, mothers, a grandmother, artists and an engineer, a photographer, a film crew, a radio journalist and an ex-Australian soldier.

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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

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Indigenous Leaders Arrested for ‘Treason’

West Papuan customary leaders Apolos Sewa, 53, Amandus Mirino, 56, Samuel Klasjok, 60, and Yohanes Goram, 53 are facing charges of treason under articles 106 and 110 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, following a congregation to pray for the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua on the 28th of August.

The head of police at Sorong, Harry Goldenhard, confirmed the charges to Marni Cordell of the Guardian, saying the four had been arrested after the banned Morning Star flag was raised following the church service.

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