West Papua friendship mural censored after strong pressure from the Indonesian Consulate

March 11, 2017
The censored Freedom Mural.

The West Papuan Friendship Mural in the Darwin CBD, which has become a poignant symbol of solidarity between the people of West Papua and Australia, was half painted over on March 4 after strong pressure from the Indonesian Consulate.

The mural was painted in June 2015 as part of a week of action in solidarity the West Papuan struggle for independence from Indonesia.

In June last year, the ABC revealed that the owners of the building, Randazzo properties, had asked the artists to paint over it as a "matter of urgency" following the application of "external pressures". Randazzo later denied this happened.

In an email obtained by the ABC, an employee for Randazzo told a representative from the artist group: "Due to some external pressures I have been asked to see the wall painted out as a matter of urgency and have started putting things in place."

Activists from Australians for a Free West Papua told the ABC they had been told by the same Randazzo Properties employee that the "external pressure" was the Indonesian consulate in Darwin.

The Indonesian Consul in Darwin, Andre Siregar, said while he had not been in contact with the wall's owner, he had written to the Northern Territory Government in August 2015 to register his opposition to the depiction of the West Papuan flag.

At the time Larrakiah elder June Mills said: "People cannot raise the West Papuan flag in West Papua — they are killed, or if not killed, jailed, or severely punished in some form.

"So we've painted the flag here, in solidarity with the Aboriginal flag — we are both recognising the struggle, and the real issue is they want that gone, because they don't want the message out, they're suppressing the information about what is happening in West Papua."

At the time of writing, half the mural had been painted over, but before it could be destroyed completely, local Free West Papua activists quickly repainted it with the words “You can’t cover up genocide”.

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