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Freedom Flotilla – Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Aboriginal Tent Embassy delegation outside Indonesian Embassy in Canberra - From left: Ruth Gilbert, Alice Haines, Lara Pullin and Anthony Coombs.

Press release

On Wednesday 21st August 2013, a delegation of human rights activists from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra went to the Indonesian Embassy to raise human rights concerns about the hostile statements made by the Indonesian government yesterday. The statement, released by Australian media, says that the Indonesian government may conduct a military strike on the small and unarmed crew of the Freedom Flotilla. The Flotilla is comprised of three small boats which are heading to West Papua to show solidarity with the West Papuan Indigenous people in their struggle against brutality and the killings of West Papuan people.

The Australian Government’s statements were equally concerning and they have publicly stated to Indonesia to use all means necessary. Kevin Buzzacott, a long-time veteran of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is aboard the West Papuan Freedom Flotilla boat heading to West Papua. Kevin Buzzacott holds significance status in Australia from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people as a highly respected activist and cultural Law person, and is an important representative of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for his ongoing commitment to justice, sovereignty and land rights for Aboriginal people.

Hearing news from the Australian press of a potential threat to his life and the members of the West Papuan Freedom Flotilla has sparked immediate outrage in our communities.

The Indonesian Embassy today welcomed the Aboriginal Embassy delegates in for an open discussion. The following points were discussed:
To convey to the Prime Minister of Indonesia that we have our important Elders on the Freedom Flotilla coming as a peaceful envoy, and that our Elders must be treated with respect and allowed to return unharmed. They are bearing sacred fire and water only and come in peace.

  • A call to end immediately end bloodshed in West Papua.
  • No Violence and only Peace while dealing with our People, who are sharing cultural and moral support with West Papuans.
  • An understanding of why our People sympathise with our close neighbours for cultural reasons.

Further discussions occurred around these topics and clarity was given that First Nations People of Australia had not ceded our Sovereignty; therefore the Australian Government has no authorisation to speak on our behalf. Follow ups with the Indonesian Embassy will be occurring to ensure the safety of all people on board the West Papuan Freedom Flotilla.

We urge everybody to take an active interest in the progress in the Freedom Flotilla. The situation still remains volatile and needs ongoing attention. The Indonesian Embassy in Canberra has welcomed ongoing dialogue with the Tent Embassy Delegates over this matter.