Freedom Flotilla to West Papua has said that its flagship yacht "The Pog" has crossed into Indonesia's exclusive economic zone and is continuing attempts to open dialogue with the Navy Command in their destination port Merauke in West Papua.
An earlier press release on Friday said that evading the Indonesian Navy, two boats met near the Australia-Indonesia border, to ceremonially reconnect the indigenous peoples of Australia and West Papua and handover sacred water and ashes carried onboard the Freedom Flotilla, to be presented to West Papuan leaders.
This ceremonial meeting was clandestinely held at an undisclosed location off the south coast of Papua, even as the "the Pog" which left Thursday Island towards Indonesia diverted the attention of Indonesia authorities.
The earlier press release on Friday, did not mention whether "The Pog" intended to proceed or return following the "sacred mission" having been accomplished. Now with the second release of Friday, confirming "The Pog" journey, it turns out that the "sacred mission" accomplished by ceremonial meeting was only a cultural agenda of the protest movement.
The political agenda continues with the "The Pog," now confirmed to have crossed into the Indonesia exclusive economic zone. The protestors are looking forward to raise issues of self-determination and human rights violation in West Papua.
"The Indonesian military is yet to rule out the use of lethal force against the peaceful protest," in spite of reiterating "the non-violent nature" of the protest, the second press release issued by the organisers, on Friday said.
The release added that another representation has been made to the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra on Friday, requesting that a channel be opened for dialogue. This follows the Indonesian Navy's expressed willingness to that they would open dialogue with the [Freedom Flotilla] group.
"Repeated calls from "The Pog" to Navy Captain Ardianto [Indonesian Navy] have been answered and then disconnected, without any further communication," the release said. Meanwhile, Freedom Flotilla is persisting with attempts to make direct contact and open a dialogue, the release added.
"Principally, any kind of non-peaceful crossing into Indonesian water territory will not be tolerated," Indonesian Navy First Admiral Untung Surapati was quoted in reports as saying. Responding to the statement by Indonesian Naval authorities, Freedom Flotilla's co-founder Izzy Brown reiterated their movement is a non-violent voyage.
"Our tiny yacht is unarmed; this is part of a peaceful mission to reconnect the cultures of two peoples whose lands were once joined," she said.
Commenting that the situation reflects the everyday reality of West Papuans who face military repression for holding peaceful democratic actions, Ronny Kareni, one of the organisers of the Freedom Flotilla said, "We join with Human Rights Watch in their observation that Indonesian security forces continuously fail to distinguish between peaceful and violent actions."
"We call on the Indonesian government, for one moment to use its heart and not its emotional anger to allow a safe passage for the Freedom Flotilla to enter Merauke," Kareni was quoted as saying.
"We also call for Indonesia to enter into dialogue with West Papuan leaders, and resolve the issue of self-determination" he added.
Meanwhile in Merauke, locals have been refused permission by the regional police to hold a ceremony welcoming the Freedom Flotilla, for which garlands of flowers, traditional dances, prayers and banners were prepared, the press release added.
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