Maori Pasifika women to mark for Papua freedom day
A collective of Maori and Pacific women in South Auckland are raising the Morning Star flag on the first of December in a show of solidarity for freedom in West Papua.
A collective of Maori and Pacific women in South Auckland will today raise the Morning Star flag in a show of solidarity for freedom in West Papua.
The flag is a potent symbol for the Free Papua Movement and was first raised on the 1st of December in 1961 but was later banned by Jakarta after it assumed control of the former Dutch province.
Spokesperson for the Oceania Interrupted action group, Leilani Salesa, spoke with Koroi Hawkins about the action.
LEILANI SALESA: We are going to be staging an action called Action 9 Circle of Solidarity - Free West Papua which is a performance which will take place at 5.30 pm at Otamariki park in Otara. Our performance is in honour of the struggle of West Papuan people and their desire to be free.
KOROI HAWKINS: What's in the performance if you can describe it a bit.
LS: Our collective Ocean Interrupted aims to empower collective action, and that's to call all Pacific and Maori women to join the performance. And this is number 9 of 15 actions. We are staging 15 actions in honour of the 15 years that Filep Karma was sentenced for raising the morning star flag in 2004. In the performance we always work with the number 15, or 5 and 3. So what we will do is assemble in a circle and we will assemble in a circle of solidarity three times and we will physically interrupt the park which has various components - there's a roadside, there's housing, there's also a playground, a green space and a basketball court. So our performance will be staged in amongst a social space the community already uses.
KH: And how long has your group been together? And when did you realise that this was something, and why it was important, you do what you do?
LS: Oceania Interrupted was established on December 1 2013. And it was a combination of events that happened whereby a group of women who came and understood the situation in West Papua, and understood that in order to transpose and illuminate the situation in West Papua and to share knowledge with our communities and to empower them to do more, we need to go beyond the standard means that communities do to share messages. We understood that visual and performance art was key to that.
KH: I had the pleasure of meeting Filep Karma in prison. We went there last month to West Papua, myself and my colleague Johnny Blades. And he has recently been released. How does the group feel about that?
LS: Oceania Interrupted is delighted that Filep Karma was freed on November 19. And whilst his case is very well known in terms of political prisoners, we also have to remember those other West Papuan political prisoners who require our support and call for our solidarity.
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