Melbourne joins global protests to free West Papua


West Papuans and their supporters staged protests worldwide to coincide with US President Barack Obama's visit to Indonesia. Large protests were held in West Papua.

In Melbourne, about 50 activists protested at Federation Square on November 10, demanding action against the Indonesian government and its atrocities against West Papuans.

Protesters chanting "Papua merdeka" (“Free Papua”) and carrying the West Papuan flag called for the Australian government to stop all Australian financial support and training of Indonesian military and security personnel until human rights abuses in West Papua cease.

As part of the demonstration, two hours of film footage of the West Papuan independence movement was shown on Federation Square’s big screen.

The Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) organised the event to support the six-member West Papuan delegation to the United Nations, led by Richard Rumbiak from Melbourne, which is requesting that the UN "conduct a genuine, UN-monitored referendum on self determination in which all adult West Papuans are allowed to vote without duress”.

AWPA representative Gillius Kogoya spoke to Green Left Weekly.

"For the last five decades the Indonesian army has killed more than half of our people", he said. "We have no guns. We are using non violence to fight a ruthless Indonesian army. West Papuans live in fear of persecution, abduction and death because of who they are and we want the Australian people to help us."