West Papua's cause not forgotten

Campaigners: Members of the Warrnambool group seeking an independent West Papua raise the West Papuan flag at the Civic Green. Picture: Amy Paton

Campaigners: Members of the Warrnambool group seeking an independent West Papua raise the West Papuan flag at the Civic Green. Picture: Amy Paton

The cause might be little known but that has not deterred the Warrnambool branch of the West Papuan independence movement.

The group this week raised the West Papuan flag at Warrnambool’s Civic Green to commemorate West Papuan independence day but an independent West Papua is far from reality.

West Papua is the western part of the island of New Guinea and has been ruled by Indonesia since the 1960s.

Warrnambool group chair Marilyn Woodward, who lived near West Papuan border for some years, said West Papuans had fought against Indonesians rule for decades and many had been killed.

“We do not hear about the atrocities going on there,” Mrs Woodward said.

She said Indonesia was keen to exploit the province’s minerals and had implemented a resettlement program that had brought in thousands of Javanese to the province.

The resettlement program meant there were presently more Indonesians than West Papuans in West Papua, she said.

The Warrnambool group has been established for 14 years and is based at St Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Apart from raising awareness about the West Papuan independence movement, the group also fund raises to help West Papuan students studying in Australia.

It also sends money to the refugee camps near the border between West Papua and Papua New Guinea to which many West Papuans have fled.

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