Vigil for West Papua

A vigil for West Papua outside the Indonesian consulate in Sydney.
A vigil for West Papua outside the Indonesian consulate in Sydney. Photo: Bernadette Smith

Human rights activists are holding regular vigils outside the Indonesian Consulate in Sydney, calling for a United Nations-supervised referendum to allow the people of West Papua to vote on independence.

There has been a recent upsurge in activism around West Papuan independence, including among Indonesians, despite intimidation and serious consequences for activists. West Papuans risk up to 15 years jail for flying the West Papuan flag.

West Papuan students in Indonesia were recently subjected to racist taunts by the military, leading to widespread protests and violent crackdowns.

According to Stuart Highway, who initiated the vigil, passersby  have been particularly supportive: “Motorists wave, toot their horns or call out words of solidarity. We also get thumbs up and clenched fist salutes from bus drivers, truckies and tradies.

“People also stop to give words of encouragement or ask for information. Australians, even in these difficult times, still support the idea of a fair go and support the underdog. People like the idea of having a go at a powerful enemy despite the odds, and West Papua's struggle for independence is certainly a David and Goliath struggle.”

[For more information contact Stuart Highway on 0491 095 461.]