Flotilla puts West Papua in the Australian consciousness | Pacific Beat

Flotilla puts West Papua in the Australian consciousness

Flotilla puts West Papua in the Australian consciousness

Updated 16 September 2013, 17:06 AEST

The West Papua Freedom Flotilla has arrived back in Gove in the Northern Territory, describing their attempt to get the attention of the province's Indonesian masters and the world's media, a success.

The Flotilla was led by a group of senior indigenous Australian's, and began it's trip by road from Lake Eyre in Central Australia to Cairns, then by boat to West Papua.

Their purpose was to raise awareness of what they claim are injustices in the Indonesian Province.

That purpose put them at odds with the Australian government, which told the group personally if they were arrested they would not be given any extra curricular assistance.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Organiser Lizzy Brown from the Freedom Flotilla

BROWN: Well we crossed over, the border at about midnight. There was just me and Amos on watch. There was quite a few lights. We weren't sure if they were fishing boats or if they were military, so it was a little nerve racking. By the light of day, it was defnitely a lot less stressful. We couldn't see any military presence.

We then made repeated attempts to contact the military representative in Merauke and Jakarta, but to no avail. We'd get through and then they'd hang up on us. There was no response to our calls by radio. We were then advised that the statements that they'd made against us about potentially using military force and all that kind of stuff. So once we were across the border, we launched a small dinghy with a sail and a tracker and messages for the Indonesian government as well messages for people in Merauke and sent that in their direction.

COONEY: Were you able to meet up with any of the representatives from West Papua?

BROWN: Not on that occasion, but while all the focus was on us and following the tracker, a few of us went on a secret mission to another area near the PNG and West Papuan border and met with leaders from the West Papuan movement in the water there and exchanged the ashes from the Aboriginal tent embassy here in Australia and the sacred water that we carried all the way from Lake Eyre.

COONEY: OK. Now, you're back in Gove now. How are you feeling about the Flotilla? It started in Lake Eyre. It's moved its way right around the coast. You're back in Gove now

as I mentioned before. Do you feel that you achieved what you wanted to?

BROWN: We're really happy to know we did receive global media coverage. We also received attention on our web site from around the world and we're being followed by hundreds-of-thousands of people. We got back hundreds-of-thousands of hits on the web site during the last week of this mission and we really hope and really feel that this campaign has helped to put West Papua on the map and in people's consciousness and hopefully in the consciousness of Australian politicians and Australian people as well.

COONEY: What's next then. If you could think of something to follow up after this, what would it be?

BROWN: Hmm, we're going to continue to try and find support for political prisoners in West Papua. We'll be running a campaign to support those who were arrested at the prayer and welcoming ceremony in Sarong and we're going to do more fundraising and campaigning to yeah get the word out about the situation there and keep a close eye on what's happening inside West Papua.

Today there was demonstrations. The KBP, there was 15 people arrested and we're still receiving a full update and information on that. So yeah, there's a lot happening in West Papua in terms of people rising up and fighting for independence. So we're going to keep a close eye on that and use the attention that we now have to the Flotilla to focus that back on what's happening inside West Papua.

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