Four years after escaping to Australia in a boat bearing the message “Save our souls”, a group of Melbourne-based West Papuan asylum seekers plan to carry their message about forgotten genocide to New York.Four years after escaping to Australia in a boat bearing the message "Save our souls", a group of Melbourne-based West Papuan asylum seekers plan to carry their message about forgotten genocide to New York.
Since arriving in Australia, the refugees have been trying to draw attention to the genocide of their people by organising regular vigils at the Indonesian Consulate, rallies, forums and through music, art and dance.
They now want to take their campaign to the World Council of Churches and the United Nations which oversaw the infamous 1962 "Act Free of Choice", in which 1022 handpicked West Papuans "voted" at gun point to integrate West Papua into Indonesia.
The Australia West Papua Association is calling on artists to support their efforts. A fund-raising art auction is planned for May 17 to help send people to speak at US universities, as well as to meet with religious leaders and anthropologists.
The art auction will showcase traditional West Papuan bark paintings, and paintings and photos by the refugees, as well as donations from local artists.
"The long struggle to end the genocide of West Papuan people lives through inspiration from West Papua's rich culture", the Australia West Papua Association's Ricky Rumbiak said. "Its music, dance, and art have come to be expressions not just of Papuan's unique cultural identities, but of the struggle against injustice and the desire for independence."