The Sydney Morning Herald, August 16, 2007
Refugees rally around the flag
[PHOTO: Anniversary … West Papuans at Parliament House. Photo: Glen
THE diplomatically sensitive Morning Star independence flag was flown outside the
Australian Parliament yesterday by a group of West Papuans - some of whose
successful asylum applications last year infuriated Indonesia.
Flying the same flag in West Papua would probably mean jail.
It was the anniversary yesterday of the 1962 diplomatic agreement which led to West
Papua's incorporation by Indonesia.
The independence campaigner Herman Wainggai yesterday called on the Government
to use a visit to Australia next month of the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, to press for round-table talks on the province's future.
Mr Wainggai told those gathered in freezing light rain, including 25 of the 43 who were
granted asylum last year, that their plight had alerted ordinary Australians to
repression by Indonesian security personnel. The refugees, some with their faces
painted in traditional designs and one sporting a headdress of cassowary feathers,
arrived at Cape York in January last year on board an outrigger canoe.
Mr Wainggai thanked the Australian Government for granting them asylum, but said it
was not doing enough to speak out against abuses in West Papua, which borders
Papua New Guinea. "We are not sure if those who need to hear our story are
listening," he said. "People in our homeland need protection too."
Australia has signed a security agreement with Indonesia which provides that neither
country should undermine the sovereign integrity of the other.
But submissions to a federal parliamentary inquiry stated that the treaty should not be
used to stifle rights of those granted asylum in Australia to peacefully express their
Copyright © 2007. The Sydney Morning Herald.