Skip to content

West Papua Freedom Flotilla refused entry by Indonesian military

September 12, 2013

http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2013/09/west-papua-freedom-flotilla-refused-entry-by-indonesian-military/

West Papua Freedom Flotilla refused entry by Indonesian military

22:47 September 12, 2013 0 comments

The Pog shortly after departing Thursday Island in northern Queensland on Thursday, heading for Merauke in West Papua. Image: freedomflotillawestpapua.org

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Daniel Drageset

The West Papua Freedom Flotilla has been refused to enter the port of Merauke in West Papua.

The flagship boat of the Flotilla, The Pog, set off from Thursday Island, Queensland, and crossed into the waters of the Indonesian ruled territory of West Papua on Thursday.

But the Flotilla, which on numerous occasions have said that their intentions were only peaceful, would not be allowed in to the West Papuan city of Merauke, the Indonesian army stated.

screen-shot-2013-09-12-at-4-27-18-pm

The poster encouraging people to support the Flotilla on Friday, September 13, in Adelaide. Image: freedomflotillawestpapua.org

“They cannot enter sovereign territory of our country as long as they don’t have cleared document,” Brigadier General Rahmayadi told AAP.

He promised that they would not be taken to land, but instead “expelled while they’re on the sea”.

“No compromise on that. They’ll definitely not be taken to the land first.”

Anticipating a showdown with the military, the Flotilla published an Urgent Snap Action on their website on Thursday, calling for people in Adelaide to “come along to support justice for West Papua and show solidarity for the Freedom Flotilla” on Friday as they may “be intercepted by the Indonesian military”.

The Freedom Flotilla was initially made up of three boats with about 20 Australians and West Papuans aboard, and set sail from Cairns last month bound for West Papua.

Because of mechanical problems just six activists aboard one boat, the Pog, were sailing the final leg of the journey.

Indonesian threat
Already last month, Indonesian authorities stated they “ would take measures” if the Flotilla entered West Papuan waters, but also said they would not “threaten them with guns, but we want to send them away”.

More recently, the Indonesian Navy expressed fears the Flotilla would be armed. Co-founder of the West Papua Freedom Flotilla, Izzy Brown, denied the allegation.

“We come in peace, bearing no arms,” she said according to International Business Times.

“If one unarmed yacht carrying six people justifies a military response from Indonesia, what would they have done if their country was invaded by tens of thousands of paratroopers, marines and army personnel as happened to our land West Papua in Operation Trikora in 1962?”, crew member Jacob Rumbiak questioned.

A total of 2500 Indonesian soldiers have been deployed to Merauke in the last weeks, something the authorities claimed was a “normal rotation”.

“What kind of normal situation is a constant military presence of at least 5000 military personnel in a town of 80,000?” asked Ruben Blake of the Freedom Flotilla, calling the troop build-up unjustified.
daru_med_size15

The Indonesian military increased the number of soldiers in Merauke and Daru before the Flotilla arrived. Image: freedomflotillawestpapua.org

Military on alert
The Flotilla claimed that the Indonesian troops were on alert at the moment not only to stop the Freedom Flotilla, but ready to crack down against any peaceful demonstrations or welcoming ceremonies for the Freedom Flotilla.

According to a press release on the Flotilla’s website, the troops arrived in Merauke on the same day when in Sorong four community leaders were arrested and charged with treason after organising a congregation to pray for the safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Navy said that if the group was unarmed “we’ll try to have some dialogue with them,” an offer which was welcomed by Freedom Flotilla organisers.

Before the Indonesian military’s decision to not allow the Flotilla entry to Merauke, Brown told Fairfax reporter Michael Bachelard they would “try to negotiate free passage or safe passage to Merauke”.

She also said the Flotilla had been trying to get in contact with Indonesian authorities, but that they were unsuccessful.

According to Bachelard, Indonesian authorities were “monumentally sensitive about West Papua and the question of separatism and independence”.

He called the Flotilla “deliberately provocative” in the eyes of Indonesian authorities, because they did not travel with internationally recognised passports, but “First Nation” passports instead.

The reporter said the Flotilla was likely to face military, naval and legal reactions from the Indonesians.
Buzzacott with original nation passport

Aboriginal elder, Kevin Buzzacott, with the “Original Nation” passport that Indonesian authorities refuse to accept. Buzzacott is one of the organisers of the Flotilla. Image: freedomflotillawestpapua.org

Human rights
Organisers of the Freedom Flotilla said they aimed to let the world know about human rights abuses in West Papua.

A range of human rights abuses have been documented in West Papua by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The Flotilla participants also wanted to highlight cultural links between Aboriginals and West Papuans.

The crew included Aboriginal elders, West Papuan refugees, filmmakers and other campaigners.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said last month they would not give consular assistance to the campaigners “if they end up in prison as a result of breaching the law of Indonesia”.

One of the Aboriginal elder, Kevin Buzzacott, said in a Pacific Scoop interview the consequences of the Australian policy could be that the campaigners “rot in the jails over there”.

In the past month, the West Papua Freedom Flotilla of around 20 people have made their way overland from Lake Eyre in central Australia to Cairns, and then by sea along the coast of Cape York.

The Flotilla consisted of three boats, one of which attempted to go all the way to West Papua.

Watch Michael Bachelard’s video report

West Papuans arrested for ‘treason’ at ceremony for Freedom Flotilla

West Papua Freedom Flotilla fears activists will ‘rot in jail’ if no help sent (audio interview with Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott)

Daniel Drageset is the Pacific Scoop internship editor.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: