Dutch New Guinea veterans 'angry' over flag ban
The Free West Papua Campaign says Dutch New Guinea veterans are angry they have been banned from carrying the West Papuan Morning Star flag during a a march this week in The Hague.
The Free West Papua Campaign says Dutch New Guinea veterans are angry they have been stopped from carrying the West Papuan Morning Star flag during a a march this week in The Hague.
The Netherlands celebrates National Veterans Day on Saturday and veterans will march through the city but for the first time in 10 years New Guinea veterans will not be allowed to carry the flag.
The campaign's coordinator in the Netherlands says the Dutch Veterans Day Committee is apparently responsible for banning the flag and the Government has denied any involvement.
But Oridek Ap told Amelia Langford veterans believe the Indonesian Embassy is behind the ban and they plan to protest by displaying it anyway.
ORIDEK AP: The committee, they decided to ban this flag because it has too much political side-effects. So that's why they decided to ban this flag. But they say, the Dutch Ministry of Defence, they say they have nothing to do with this ban.
AMELIA LANGFORD: So why do they not want this flag, do you think?
OA: I think that the Indonesian embassy has something to do with it. But we don't have proof. There are no written statements made by the Indonesian embassy but we think the Indonesian embassy, they have something to do with this banning of the Morning Star Flag.
AL: Because this is a march the veterans take every year, and they always usually take the flag?
OA: Yeah, this year will be the tenth year, so all these nine years we have been raising our flags, but suddenly it was decided that this flag was too political, so they want to, they demand that the Dutch veterans should only walk with the regiment's flag.
AL: How are the veterans reacting to this?
OA: All of them are angry, and most of them, they decided not to walk in this parade. But just to stand aside with the flag. But probably they will also walk through the Hague with the Morning Star Flag. Actually they help us to open the eyes of a lot of people in the Netherlands, because this coming Saturday it will be a turning point in the Netherlands.
AL: In the Netherlands, do a lot of people realise what happened in West Papua and what role the Dutch played?
OA: Only people who have been in West Papua, like the Dutch veterans, or people who have lived there, they know the stories. All the generation who have witnessed the 60s, they know the stories, but the younger generations before my own generation, we have to tell the story all over again. So they don't know this, their own history, the Papuan history. This is an unknown story for the Dutch youth. So that's right, it is important, it is going to be a turning point like I said, because they will ask themselves why, why are people walking with this flag? And normally, they show this flag, only one flag, but this coming Saturday, maybe some hundreds will be walking with this flag. And I think a lot of youngsters, a lot of people, they will ask themselves why are people walking with this flag, which flag is that, and what about West Papua. As far as I know, it is the first flag in the Netherlands that they say it's a banned flag. So now all the people know only one flag is banned in the Netherlands and it's the West Papuan flag. So it's very painful but at the same time it's good because it will open a lot of eyes in the Netherlands.
The Free West Papua Campaign's coordinator in the Netherlands, Oridek Ap.
Under the UN's New York Agreement the former Dutch New Guinea was ceded to Indonesia in 1962.
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