Greens to fly West Papuan independence flag and deliver protest letter

Green MP Keith Locke will deliver a protest letter to the Indonesian Embassy this morning over the arrest to two top West Papuan leaders.

Indonesia has detained the head of the Papuan Presidium Council, Theys Eluay, and his deputy Thaha Al Hamid, accusing them of subversion.

“We must speak out now, to stop another East Timor nightmare unfolding in West Papua,” said Mr Locke, the party’s foreign affairs spokesperson.

“Mr Eluay is the recognised leader of the West Papuan independence movement, and has led negotiations with President Wahid. His release is essential for a peaceful realisation of the West Papuan people’s aspirations for freedom,” he said.

Mr Locke said keeping him in prison could provoke and escalation of violence.

“Today, December 1, will be celebrated across West Papua as national day, the 39th anniversary of a declaration of independence from Dutch rule. On that day, in 1961, the people first raised their ‘Morning Star’ national flag which, ever since, has been a symbol of resistance.”

Mr Locke said flag raising ceremonies will occur across West Papua tomorrow. There is fear that the arrest of Mr Eluay will be a prelude to a clampdown on these ceremonies.

“In solidarity with the Papuan people, my Green Party colleagues will be raising several large Morning Star flags outside the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington tomorrow.

“I will deliver a protest letter to the Indonesian Embassy (70 Glen Road) at 11am this morning,” he said.