2 Dec 2016

Flag day in Papua takes form of prayer events, petition

8:40 pm on 2 December 2016

Events held in the cities of West Papua to mark the anniversary of the Papuan nationalist day mainly took the form of prayer events.

Morning Star Flag

Morning Star Flag Photo: Copyright: chelovek / 123RF Stock Photo

Yesterday was the 55th anniversary of a declaration of independence by the indigenous people of the former Dutch New Guinea declared independence.

The Papuan nationlist Morning Star was subsequently banned when Indonesia took over, but each year global rallies mark this anniversary in support of Papuans.

In Papua, the biggest of yesterday's events was in the Highlands town of Wamena where 3000 people converged for a large prayer event at the Traditional Council headquarters.

West Papuans show solidarity at a prayer event at Sinapuk Stadium in Wamena.

West Papuans show solidarity at a prayer event at Sinapuk Stadium in Wamena. Photo: Supplied

Benar News reported that organisers of the event thanked the Indonesian authorities for permitting the opportunity to worship.

Among the speakers at another peaceful event, across in Papua's provincial capital, was Filep Karma.

Papuan pro-independence activist Filep Karma (C) asks police for a permit to hold a convoy with his supporters after being released from prison in Abepura, Papua province, on November 19, 2015.

Papuan pro-independence activist Filep Karma (C) asks police for a permit to hold a convoy with his supporters after being released from prison in Abepura, Papua province, on November 19, 2015. Photo: AFP

Mr Karma was released from prison a year ago after serving eleven years for raising the Morning Star in 2004.

At the Jayapura event, hundreds signed a petition in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua with its growing representative role in the Pacific region.

Thousands sign petition message in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua movement in the Pacific and at the UN.

Thousands sign petition message in support of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua movement in the Pacific and at the UN. Photo: Supplied

'Political maturity'

Unlike December 1st demos in global centres such as London, Sydney, the Papua events were not allowed to feature raising of the Morning Star.

"Papuans are already aware and do not want to be provoked by violence and conflict," Mr Karma was reported as saying.

"Prayers and speeches such as these show political maturity and a dignified struggle."

West Papuan independence campaigner Filep Karma.

West Papuan independence campaigner Filep Karma. Photo: RNZI / Koroi Hawkins

The event also heard a speech written by the Liberation Movement secretary-general Octo Mote.

He said Indonesians "are starting to acknowledge that crimes have been committed by the government and military of Indonesia in Papua".

In Jakarta police arrested over two hundred people for participating in a demonstration in support of West Papuans' right to self-determination.

14 were arrested in the other Indonesian city of Yogyakarta.

Indonesian police turn water canons on protestors who were mostly university students from Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance in Jakarta on December 1, 2016.

Indonesian police turn water canons on protestors who were mostly university students from Free Papua Organization and the Papua Student Alliance in Jakarta on December 1, 2016. Photo: Supplied