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Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St in Darwin painted over

March 12, 2017

Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St in Darwin painted over

Painters paint over the Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St. PICTURE: Ivan Rachman

KIERAN BANKS, NT News March 12, 2017 1:15pm

A FINAL protest to save a mural dedicated to the persecuted women of West Papua failed to prevent the piece of cultural art from being destroyed.

The mural, a sign of friendship between indigenous Australians and West Papuans, was half painted over last week.

The remainder of the mural was covered yesterday morning and protester Cindy Watson said 10 people tried to save the artwork, to no avail.

The mural was painted on a brick wall at the intersection of Cavenagh and Bennett streets in June 2015 but Ms Watson said “pressure” from Indonesia to remove it had been strong ever since. She said it was particularly disheartening to lose the mural on the day Darwin marched for International Women’s Day.

Cindy Watson holds up a West Papua flag while painters behind her paint over the Free West Papua mural on Cavenagh St. PICTURE: Ivan Rachman

“Whilst there’s a lot to celebrate with the things that women have achieved, there’s a lot to still struggle for and right on this day the remainder of an Aboriginal and West Papua friendship mural was wiped out,” she said.

“We wanted the mural to stay. It was not only a symbol of friendship, it was a piece of art, cultural art, and under pressure publicly from Indonesia it was completely wiped out.”

Ms Watson said more needed to be done to help the women of West Papua.

“We are working on more murals and on International Women’s Day we need not only to celebrate but we need to stand up for the voiceless people and that is the women of West Papua.”

West Papua friendship mural censored after strong pressure from the Indonesian Consulate

The censored Freedom Mural.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The West Papuan Friendship Mural in the Darwin CBD, which has become a poignant symbol of solidarity between the people of West Papua and Australia, was half painted over on March 4 after strong pressure from the Indonesian Consulate.

The mural was painted in June 2015 as part of a week of action in solidarity the West Papuan struggle for independence from Indonesia.

In June last year, the ABC revealed that the owners of the building, Randazzo properties, had asked the artists to paint over it as a "matter of urgency" following the application of "external pressures". Randazzo later denied this happened.

In an email obtained by the ABC, an employee for Randazzo told a representative from the artist group: "Due to some external pressures I have been asked to see the wall painted out as a matter of urgency and have started putting things in place."

Activists from Australians for a Free West Papua told the ABC they had been told by the same Randazzo Properties employee that the "external pressure" was the Indonesian consulate in Darwin.

The Indonesian Consul in Darwin, Andre Siregar, said while he had not been in contact with the wall’s owner, he had written to the Northern Territory Government in August 2015 to register his opposition to the depiction of the West Papuan flag.

At the time Larrakiah elder June Mills said: "People cannot raise the West Papuan flag in West Papua — they are killed, or if not killed, jailed, or severely punished in some form.

"So we’ve painted the flag here, in solidarity with the Aboriginal flag — we are both recognising the struggle, and the real issue is they want that gone, because they don’t want the message out, they’re suppressing the information about what is happening in West Papua."

At the time of writing, half the mural had been painted over, but before it could be destroyed completely, local Free West Papua activists quickly repainted it with the words “You can’t cover up genocide”.

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Australian News

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