West Papuan Independence Day marked

Aotearoa NZ protest for West Papua. Photo: Susan Hatten

West Papuans, Aboriginal activists and supporters held a midday vigil outside the Indonesian consulate in Perth on December 1 to mark West Papuan Independence Day. The action also called for the end of the military occupation by Indonesia that has killed more than 500,000 West Papuans since 1961, when West Papua was annexed by Indonesia.

Wiwince Pigome, from the International West Papuan Students Alliance–Western Australia, told Green Left Weekly: “West Papuans are an independent people, however our independence remains stolen from us. Every day, every week, more and more West Papuans are being killed, our leaders put in jail and tortured. We are not allowed to fly our national flag [the Morning Star], and anyone who does is in danger.

“The Australian government is complicit in the genocide of the West Papuan people. The government here provides their Indonesian counterparts with $600 million in military support each year. This material and training is then used to brutalise and kill people seeking self-determination in West Papua. The Australian government should be using taxpayers money to help those who need support, not for assisting in crimes against humanity.

“The Australian government and media were very quick to give support to the French government after the horrible violence that happened there recently. However it is not the same when West Papuans are killed for demanding their rights. When West Papuans die there is only silence. The Australian government and media have the ability to shine an international spotlight on what's happening in West Papua and help end this brutal occupation. The fact that they can means they have a moral obligation to do so. Trade cannot come before human rights.

“Solidarity with the people of Australia is very important. We see the campaigns for justice for Aboriginal people and others who are fighting for a better life and we know we are one people. It is impossible to imagine a free and happy West Papua without the support of the Australian people. That is why it is so important that the campaign for our rights in West Papua be raised here and around the world.”

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