An image from Australia's own ABC

An image from Australia’s own ABC

West Papuan Independence advocate, Ronny Kareni, who is based in Melbourne, rejects the Australian Foreign Minister’s comments in Senate Estimates last week, that the people who ‘fly the Papuan flags’ and who ‘talk the language of independence’ are part of a ‘cruel deceit’ by ‘selfindulgent people’ who are safe in their ‘own democracy’.

“For the last 50 years, the struggle has been driven by the Papuans themselves putting their life on the frontline in West Papua and abroad, campaigning against the entrenched brutality by Indonesian security forces” says Ronny Kareni.

“We build solidarity with groups in Australia and abroad but this movement was initiated and is primarily driven by West Papuans in West Papua – who seek an end to the human rights abuses and recognition of their political rights to self-determination.”

West Papua was illegally occupied in December1961 as part of the Indonesian military operation ‘Trikora”, which aimed to seize the former Dutch colony ‘Netherlands New Guinea’. West Papua’s independence was denied by the UN. The UN subsequently granted Indonesia administration of the
the region and Indonesia ultimately gained full control in 1969, after the referendum named ‘Act of free choice’. Despite this being widely criticised as a shame vote that contravenes international law.

“I was born into this conflict, I’m the 3rd generation to face this ongoing struggle for our rights for freedom.” says Kareni
“My parents were forced to flee and live in exile in Papua New Guinea in the early 80s as part of the large exodus of West Papuans. It was and remains very dangerous for West Papuans to peacefully campaign for their human rights and political rights- even raising our Morning Star flag can mean between 3-15 years in prison.”

It is estimated that 500,000 Papuans have been killed since Indonesia took control. Yale University and Sydney University researches have questioned whether this constitutes genocide.

“The West Papuan’s struggle for freedom is not as Bob Carr suggests ‘a fun little game for the greens party’. It is the West Papuans living in Papua and in exile who are carrying the aspirations for our own people. We ask the international community, Indigenous people in Australia and the
Australian politicians to hear the voice of the West Papuans and support us in our struggle.”

“I find the Foreign Minister’s comments are discriminatory to the West Papuans, as he implies that it is simply ‘self-indulgent’ people in ‘safe democracies’ that are leading this struggle for independence.

This is disrespectful of our fight for freedom for the last 50 years. Everyday West Papuans risk their lives in Papua and abroad. Even those of us involved in the independence movement abroad are monitored by the Indonesian intelligence.”

“We call on the people of Australia to put pressure on the Australian government to review it’s funding and training of Detachment 88 who are alleged to have committed widespread violence and arbitrary detention of Papuans who peacefully express their political views for independence.”

“Providing access to independent foreign media and a UN fact finding mission is vital so that the international community really knows what’s happening in West Papua.”

For Media Interviews please contact: Ronny Kareni West Papuan Independence advocate at Rize of the Morning Star campaign 0401222177

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