Pro-refugee organisations in Australia, have called upon voters to cast their vote for the rights of refugees and West Papuans and join in a creative act of resistance, after voting, on election-day, Sept 7.
The call has been given by, Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, an activist's group seeking self-determination rights for Indonesian territory of West Papua, and Rise Refugee, a refugee and asylum seeker organisation in Australia, founded by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees.
Both organisations have called on voters to join protests in support of refugees, by folding their how-to-vote cards, into boats at polling booths around the country.
Every month, thousands of refugees undertake a perilous journey, risking their lives, in an attempt to reach Australia.
In a statement issued Friday, the organisers said, the policy of both the leading parties is to treat asylum seeking as a crime and refugees as criminals.
The organisers said, Australia continues to fund the Indonesian military. This makes them complicit in the violence meted out against West Papuans by Indonesian authorities.
The organisers issued a detailed 'how to make boats' pamphlet to support their cause.
Ronny Kareni, Freedom Flotilla organiser, who grew up in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a refugee from West Papua, said the status of existing refugees in PNG, even before the Australia government banned boat arrivals to the mainland, was bad.
Ronny Kareni who grew up in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a refugee from West Papua, said the status of existing refugees in PNG, even before the Australia government banned boat arrivals to the mainland, was bad.
"12,000 West Papuan refugees who have settled in PNG since the 1980′s are still being treated as a second-class citizen and border-crossers. Most Papuan refugees have not been recognised by PNG authorities as permanent residents or citizens but instead some have been given 'permissive resident' status, even though they are born in PNG," said Kareni.
Many Papuan refugees in Port Moresby continue to live in limbo, with resettlement issues even today.
Australian Governments in the past have had colonial history in Papua New Guinea. They also played a role in the takeover of West Papua by Indonesia in 1969, Kareni said.
Though, refugees being placed in extended detention on Manus Island is a new development, the precedent of this detention centre goes back to 1969.
Australian officials, detained two West Papuan leaders, Clement Ronawery and Willem Zonggonau, taking them off an aircraft, as they were about to deliver the petition to the UN. Australia detained them for eight months - long enough for a motion sponsored by Ghana, questioning the validity of the controversial West Papuan referendum, to be defeated.
"Creative resistance is a weapon of choice that can rise above tyranny," Kareni said, calling upon voters to join the protest on Saturday.
He said, global support received by the Freedom Flotilla, "will continue to give hope for West Papuans and refugees to achieve freedom and justice."
Amos Wainggai, one of the 43 West Papuan asylum seekers whose arrival in Cape York in 2006, as sparked a diplomatic row with Indonesia, spoke of how the refugee issue and West Papuan self-determination movement are linked together.
Amos Wainggai, says the refugee issue and West Papuan self-determination movement are linked together.
"We West Papuans came to Australia fleeing from persecution which is why we came here across the Torres Strait in a traditional canoe," he said.
"Now I am returning to West Papua with the Freedom Flotilla to struggle for justice in my homeland," Wainggai said.
The release added that, the Freedom Flotilla will continue its journey to West Papua across the Torres Strait, departing Thursday Island early next week.
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