Thursday, November 27, 2014

Media Release -AWPA concerned about possible crackdown on West Papuans celebrating 1st December

Australia West Papua Association (Sydney)


Media Release 28 November 2014

AWPA concerned about possible crackdown on West Papuans celebrating 1st December

The Australia West Papua association has written to the Australian Foreign Minister about concerns of a possible crackdown on peaceful demonstrators celebrating West Papuan National Flag Day on the 1st December.(Letter below). 

Joe Collins of AWPA said  "Every year the West Papuan people celebrate the 1st of December risking jail terms for raising their banned national flag. AWPA is  concerned that at the planned rallies to take place this year the security forces will again crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) has called on the West Papuan people to celebrate their national day". 
It was reported that the Police Chief has said that they will deal firmly with anybody raising the Morning Star flag and anybody doing so could be charged under the article on treason.
On Wednesday 19 November the security forces broke up peaceful rallies that had been called to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the KNPB. One demonstrator was shot in the leg and a total of 22 activists, 10 from Nabire and 12 from Dogiyai were arrested. 

AWPA is calling on the Foreign Minister to  ask the Indonesian Government to allow all peaceful rallies to take place on the 1st December without interference by the security forces so as to avoid the bloodshed and arrests that occurred on the 19 November and at other peaceful throughout the past year.

The Vanuatu Government  has declared the 1st December this year as a National Holiday in Vanuatu in support of the West Papuan people.


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The Hon Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Foreign Minister
House of Representatives

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

28 November 2014

Dear Foreign Minister,

I am writing to you concerning the issue of West Papua and the planned celebrations of West Papuan National Day or National flag day which is on the 1st December.
Fifty three years ago on the 1st of December in 1961, in the then Dutch colony of West New Guinea, the West Papuan flag, called the Morning Star was flown for the first time officially beside the Dutch Tricolor.  The Dutch were finally about to give the West Papuan people their freedom. However it is one of the great tragedies that at their moment of freedom it was cruelly crushed and West Papua was basically handed over to Indonesia in 1963.

Every year the West Papuan people celebrate the 1st of December risking jail terms for raising their banned national flag. Filep Karma is serving a 15-year jail term because he was at a rally where the flag was raised  on 1st December in 2004. Amnesty International recognizes him as a prisoner of conscience.

We are concerned that at the planned rallies to take place this year the security forces will again crackdown on peaceful demonstrators. The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) has called on the West Papuan people to celebrate their national day.
It was reported that the Police Chief has said that they will deal firmly with anybody raising the Morning Star flag and anybody doing so could be charged under the article on treason.

On Wednesday 19 November the security forces broke up peaceful rallies that had been called to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the KNPB. One demonstrator was shot in the leg and a total of 22 activists, 10 from Nabire and 12 from Dogiyai were arrested. 

The Indonesian President Joko Widodo is reported to be keen to improve the situation in West Papua and will visit West Papua in December to spend Christmas with the Papuan people. The West Papuan people are hoping he will make significant policies in relation to West Papua including allowing the West Papuan flag to fly freely as it did under former President Abdurrahman Wahid. The importance of the 1st December can be seen by the fact  that the Vanuatu Government  has declared the 1st December this year as a National Holiday in Vanuatu in support of the West Papuan people.

We urge you to use your good offices with the Indonesian Government asking that the Indonesian Government allow all peaceful rallies to take place on the 1st December without interference by the security forces so as to avoid the bloodshed and arrests that occurred on the 19 November and at other peaceful throughout the past year.

We urge you to also ask the Indonesian President to release Filep Karma and all West Papuan political prisoners.
Yours sincerely 
Joe Collins
AWPA (Sydney)



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