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Statement on 58th West Papua Flag Raising Day

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

On the 58th West Papua Flag Raising Day

December 1, 2019


In December 1, 1961, West Papua raised the Morning Star as its national flag in proclamation of its independence from the Netherlands. A few weeks after, it would then be under siege from Indonesia, and in a few years, annexed by the same through a UN-supervised sham referendum.


Raising the Morning Star today has become a symbol of West Papua’s continuing struggle for national liberation with the entry of new colonizers in new shades and forms.


One of the less subtler forms impeding Papua’s self-determination is the US company Freeport’s Grasberg mine. The economic interests of the US and Indonesia in relation to this giant gold mine will never come into terms with the Papuan people’s interest, that is the right to self-determination.


With its bountiful natural wealth, West Papua will surely be able to develop its agricultural economy and establish its own national industries that will genuinely solve the extreme poverty and underdevelopment that years of Dutch and Indonesian occupation have brought upon it.


Indonesia has used up all its excuses why Papua cannot part from it: from territorial integrity to national identity – yet all these have already been disproved by the Papuans, activists, and even academic researchers.


From time to time, Indonesia engages in dialogues with Papuan leaders but these are often railroaded just as the Act of Free Choice was and ends up co-opting leaders, dividing Papuans, and brushing off the possibility of holding a genuine referendum while they continue to militarize Papua, and wipe out its Indigenous population one by one, including non-Papuans supporting the self-determination struggle.


Youth activist Philipus Robaha is among the recent arrests under Indonesia’s crackdown on West Papua activists and supporters. He was arrested for allegedly sharing an invitation to a December 1st activity.


Every year on the days surrounding December 1st, political repression in West Papua intensifies with the celebration of West Papua’s Independence Day. The raising of a national flag seems like a simple and common activity to many nations but for occupied nations like West Papua, it’s a subversive act that puts one’s life on the line. With Indonesia’s tagging of pro-independence activists and freedom fighters as criminals, Papuans have found themselves the target of military and police ‘peace-keeping’ operations.


Despite Indonesia’s attempts to destroy the independence movement, the struggle for self-determination grows ever stronger. The mass movement is led by a new generation of freedom fighters that is determined to see a united and independent West Papua that stands against imperialism in all its forms.


Support from neighboring countries and across continents is also growing. The Merdeka West Papua Support Network joins West Papua advocates and support groups around the world in propagating the realities in West Papua and calling for solidarity to the people’s struggle on the ground. Let us raise the Morning Star in our respective countries on December 1st with our rallying call,


PAPUA MERDEKA!