"The Pog," flagship yacht of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, returned to Australian waters, following threats by the Indonesian military. Meanwhile, reports from West Papua say that a number of ceremonies were held to celebrate the arrival of sacred water and fire from the Freedom Flotilla.
As reported earlier, two boats, evading the Indonesian navy had met near the Australia-Indonesia border, to handover sacred water and fire and ceremonially reconnect the indigenous peoples of Australia and West Papua. It marked the completion of the cultural "sacred" mission of the Freedom Flotilla.
The Flotilla's flagship yacht, "The Pog, had meanwhile travelled into Indonesian exclusive zone and tried to establish contact with country's naval commanders. It is known that the Indonesian navy did not respond.
The press release issued by the organisers said, the non-violent nature of the action was reiterated. However, Indonesian authorities did not respond to calls for dialogue with the Freedom Flotilla.
The release added that the Indonesian Navy did not acknowledge that the peaceful protest vessel "The Pog" was unarmed, and had not ruled out use of force to turn the boat back.
"The Indonesian Government and Military refused not only our calls to dialogue, but also refuses to sit down for dialogue with West Papuans and find resolution for the issue of West Papua's right to self determination," said Freedom Flotilla's co-founder Izzy Brown.
"We didn't want to sail into a violent confrontation with warships, our mission was to bring the sacred water and ashes as an offering of solidarity with the Indigenous people of West Papua, and to bring attention to their struggle, which against all odds we managed to achieve " she added.
Responding to questions by International Business Times, Ruben Blake spokesperson for the Flotilla said, the activists will continue the campaign from Australia shores. Efforts will be made to organise a larger flotilla in the future and go around the islands, he said.
It's time the world pays attention to the violent repression carried out by Indonesian authorities on West Papua's peaceful Independence movement, Mr Blake said.
"Indonesia attempts to hide this story, by locking dissenters behind bars, by blocking journalists and human rights observers from entering West Papua. The Freedom Flotilla has publicly demonstrated this, and put the issue of the lack of space for democratic expression in West Papua back on the international agenda," he said.
Amid crackdown by security agencies, including naval, police and intelligence authorities, local West Papuans celebrated the arrival of the sacred water and fire marking the symbolic reunion of the indigenous people.
In Merauke, the destination port of "The Pog," a peaceful celebration of the successful cultural exchange between Indigenous Australians and West Papuans, and all those on the Freedom Flotilla.
Reports said, in nearby Fak Fak, hundreds of people undertook a long march to highlight ongoing human rights abuses against the people of West Papua. The arrival of the water and fire was also celebrated by hundreds in Manokwari with traditional dances and prayer.
"The people of West Papua express our gratitude to the Indigenous Elders, Kevin Buzzacott, human rights activists, musicians, artists, and others on the Freedom Flotilla who have raised their voices for peace and justice in West Papua," West Papuan activist Awom Eliezer was quoted as saying.
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