PNG Musician Airi Ingram has been an active supporter of the West Papua cause for sometime and alongside George Telek, they performed recently with the Wantok Sing Sing Troupe in London at a pre London Olympic event. Back in Melbourne, where he is based, he has continued the cause more recently with young West Papua Activist Ron Kareni.
There is a multitude of information and websites around on the West Papua issue, but I have generally found that it is quite fragmented and as someone who doesn’t speak Indonesian, it can be hard to follow their facebook groups. So I guess for my part of the world and simply because I know Airi and Ron, its abit easier for me to follow their efforts with the ‘Rize of the Morning Star’ campaign. The campaigns aims are:
- To raise awareness about West Papua through the entertainment industry, social media, and new technology.
- Digitally distribute music and film through Mobile Phone technology and the Internet.
- Assist with civil engagement and mass mobilisation.
- To strengthen and raise awareness of the nonviolent West Papuan civil resistance movement.
- To promote that every human being has the right to self-determination under international law.
They also have a chronology of the West Papua issue since 1961 to more recently here.
One of the interesting awareness projects they have embarked on has been the joint effort with the Lush cosmetics company. The first Lush campaign was conducted in the UK with West Papua leader Benny Wenda and so this Australian one was being conducted with ‘Rize of the Morning Star‘.
Megan Taylor, the company’s campaigns manager, stated on Radio Australia that the “…the cause fits in with its ethical philosophy. This week at Lush we’re using our stores to campaign in support of the Free West Papua movement. It’s a campaign that’s run in the UK and Ireland and the Netherlands and this week it’s running in Australia and New Zealand. What we’re doing in store is raising the banned West Papuan flag in all of our store windows. We’re also having flyers, we’re handing out educational material to our customers and selling a limited edition perfume which will go towards campaign groups to help with their campaign work to free West Papua.”
It’s perhaps the first time the West Papua issue has been taken out of the political arena so to speak and placed into the sights of the general public. Obviously this alone will not solve the issue as ultimately a political solution will have to be found, but if more everyday people can get involved we can push our leaders to seeking what Port Moresby Governor, Powes Parkop describes as a ‘Just Solution‘ for our West Papuan brothers and sisters.
You too can join the cause by joining ‘Rize of the Morning Star’ here. Also follow ABC correspondent Leigh Sales recent reports of a trip to West Papua under the disguise as a tourist here, here and in an interview with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr here.