West Papua December 1, 2018 News Reports
Compiled by veteran PPP Volunteer, Andy Nystrom
In 2017, PPP representatives and New Zealand parliamentarians met Benny Wenda, a West Papua self-determination advocate and leader in exile.
On December 1, 1961, West Papuans first raised the Morning Star flag and received recognition of it as supplemental to the Netherlands flag from the Dutch authorities ruling that territory as Netherlands New Guinea at the time. Special ceremonies in many parts of the world take place on December 1 of each year to commemorate that first flag raising. However, the flying of the Morning Star is seen by authorities of Indonesia as advocating independence and challenging Indonesian sovereignty.
Here is a round-up of 2018 activities in Indonesia and elsewhere associated with the commemoration:
About 537 people were arrested across several cities in Indonesia before and after rallies due to violence and raising the Morning Star flag. At least seventeen people were injured including head wounds, largely from stones being thrown by counter-protestors. The arrests took place in Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara, Ternate in North Maluku, Manado in North Sulawesi, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Jayapura, Asmat and Waropen in Papua and Surabaya in East Java. In Papua there were ninety additional arrests, though all of those were released on Sunday; around eighty people were reportedly arrested in the Papuan provincial capitol of Jayapura.
There were about 300 demonstrators in Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, on the island of Java, demanding a referendum for West Papua’s independence to mark December 1. Things were peaceful until protestors met resistance from around 200 counter-protestors, largely from the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans Children (FKPPI) and Pancasila Youth (PP). Some 233 Papuan students and one Australian woman were arrested in Surabaya (according to another source, 322 people were arrested in that city); the students were released without charges but the Australian woman has been handed over to immigration. She denies she was at the rally or in custody, claiming that the authorities are just keeping her safe.
The arrests have drawn criticism from human rights groups claiming that the arrests infringed on the West Papuans’ right to freedom of expression and assembly.
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister declared that his country will stay out of West Papua issues, considering the matter to be a domestic one. In contrast, West Papua’s Morning Star flag was raised in areas of New Zealand such as Canterbury and Takaparawha Bastion Point, an act that, in West Papua, could land someone in jail for up to 20 years. There were also demonstrations in Australia.
A West Papuan right to self-determination march carrying the illegal Morning Star Flag.