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Freedom Flotilla Heads to West Papua, Reaches Cooktown; Welcomed by Indigenous Elders and Locals

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By Sunny Peter | August 23, 2013 1:26 PM EST

The Freedom Flotilla, a convoy of three yachts carrying approximately 50 West Papuan and indigenous Australian protestors bound for the Indonesian territories of West Papua, reached Cooktown, Queensland on Friday morning. It was welcomed by indigenous elders and locals, a media release issued by the organisers said.

The Freedom Flotilla's flagship yacht, 'The Pog,' departed Cairns on Wednesday and will join the fleet on Friday evening. The Flotilla is scheduled to depart on Saturday morning on its journey to West Papua where it is scheduled to make an unauthorised landfall next week.

In West Papua, where the Flotilla is scheduled to reach, flyers have been distributed calling for peaceful actions and prayer to welcome the protestors.

"We are well on our way now and more determined than ever to make this journey to West Papua. The world is watching!" the Freedom Flotilla's co-founder Izzy Brown said in a recorded broadcast on Thursday.

"We are building global solidarity for a Free West Papua and highlighting the human rights and land rights abuses being carried out under the Indonesian occupation of West Papua." she said.

Indonesia has already warned that its navy will intercept the Flotilla and arrest the activists. The Australian government too issued a warning saying the activists could face up to 5 years jail for immigration and other offences if they enter Indonesian waters without approval.

Meanwhile the group's supporters on land planned solidarity actions at the Indonesian Embassy and consulates in Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra to coincide the arrival of Flotilla in West Papua.

The release said activists from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra sent an envoy to the Indonesian Embassy on Wednesday to raise human rights concerns about the hostile statements made by the Indonesian government against the Freedom Flotilla. The Indonesian Embassy received the delegates and were conveyed a message for the President of Indonesia.

Representatives called for an immediate end to bloodshed in West Papua and demanded the Freedom Flotilla be allowed safe passage to West Papua.

Meanwhile organises have been providing daily audio updates on the progress of the Flotilla's journey to West Papua with messages being recorded directly via satellite phone and live satellite tracking updating the progress the Flotilla on Internet.

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