Contributed by Joe Montero
On Saturday 22 April, the Melbourne office of the Federal Republic of West Papua held an open day.
The Federal Republic of West Papua, represent the liberation movement that is fighting against a brutal occupation by Indonesian forces opposing the striving for independence.
The occupation forbids that indigenous culture and showing the emblem of independence, the Morning Star flag, means arrest and sometimes death at the hands of the military.
Even though West Papua is only 73 kilometres from the Australian mainland, Australian governments have continued not only continued to appease, but have also trained the soldiers and provided material support to the army. Mining companies that also have connections to the Indonesian army and Australia has backed them to exploit West Papua’s resources and people.
The plight of West Papua has some similarities to that experienced by East Timor not too long ago. Australian governments played the same game for a long time. Eventually it was Australian public opinion that brought about a change. It made a huge difference.
Australian public opinion is so important once again and the activities of the Melbourne office of the Federal Republic of West Papua plays an important role.
At the open day, local activist on the West Papua cause, Trevor Grant, who has sadly passed away, was honoured. He set an example for others to follow.
West Papuan leader Jacob Rumbiak and foreign minister of the Federal Republic of West Papua, shared his views of his recent trip to Africa. He said that support has been won from an impressive list of the continent’s countries. There is now a plan to enlist African support for raising the issue of West Papua in the United Nations.
Jacob also told his audience that the liberation movement was not anti-Indonesian and looked forward to working with that country in the future. But he added, West Papuans want sovereignty and to determine their own future.
Layer Isabelle Scarfskins from the International Crimes Tribunal spoke about the internationalisation of sovereignty and West Papua being a case where Australia is likely to have a claim to intervene under the state responsibility principle. A new book by Annette Culley was launched. It is called State Responsibility’ – another legal weapon and can be purchased from the Office.
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