1 Dec 2016

NZ MPs among those sending message of hope for Papuans

7:23 pm on 1 December 2016

New Zealand MPs were among those demonstrating today in cities across the country to raise the West Papuan nationalist flag.

New Zealand MPs participate in a West Papua flag raising event in front of parliament.

New Zealand MPs participate in a West Papua flag raising event in front of parliament. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

It's 55 years since the Papuan Morning Star flag was first flown officially when the indigenous people of the former Dutch New Guinea declared independence.

However 1961's declaration was soon eclipsed by a US-brokered agreement between the Dutch and Jakarta which paved the way for an Indonesian takeover.

The Morning Star was subsequently banned in Indonesia, but each year on December 1st rallies around the world mark this anniversary in support of Papuans by raising the Morning Star.

West Papuans demonstrating support for the Liberation Movement had the Papuan Morning Star flag emblazoned on body and garb.

West Papuans demonstrating support for the Liberation Movement had the Papuan Morning Star flag emblazoned on body and garb. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

Up to 20 New Zealand MPs are involved in ongoing West Papua soldarity activities, having voiced concern about human rights abuses in the Indonesian-ruled region.

Half a dozen of them were present to hold the Morning Star at today's demonstration outside parliament.

Demonstrators outside New Zealand's parliament at a West Papua flag raising event 2016.

Demonstrators outside New Zealand's parliament at a West Papua flag raising event 2016. Photo: RNZI/Johnny Blades

Global Morning Star flag raising events are also taking place today cross Australia, Britain, South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria and elsewhere.

In Wellington, on the steps of the New Zealand parliament, the Greens MP Catherine Delahunty conveyed a message of hope to Papuans.

"People of West Papua who are not allowed to raise their own flag, all over the world today we say to them do not give up hope. Merdeka! Freedom! Solidarity with West Papua."

New Zealand Greens MP Catherine Delahunty is pushing for an independent fact-finding mission to West Papua.

New Zealand Greens MP Catherine Delahunty is pushing for an independent fact-finding mission to West Papua. Photo: RNZI

The MPs gathered to raise the Morning Star in the capital today say Papuans should be able to raise their flag without fear of imprisonment.

Meanwhile, civil society groups planning to demonstrate in Indonesia's capital Jakarta today to raise West Papua's nationalist flag have been warned they face arrest.

And in Papua itself, in recent days, security forces had launched crackdowns in some towns in the region in anticipation of December 1st rallies.