|Aboriginal elder Kevin Buzzacott in silhouette with the West Papuans'
Morning Star |
- banned by Indonesian authorities - and Aboriginal flags on
the West Papua Freedom Flotilla.
The objective is “to free our brothers and sisters up there with all the bad stuff that’s happening”, Buzzacott says in an exclusive audio interview on YouTube with the Pacific Media Centre's Daniel Drageset, reporting for Pacific Media Watch and Pacific Scoop.
The flotilla has gathered a range of pro-independence campaigners on the journey going from Lake Eyre in northern South Australia, via New South Wales and the Queensland coast, across the Torres Strait to Daru in Papua New Guinea and finally Merauke in West Papua, where the flotilla is scheduled to arrive early next month.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australian authorities have informed the Freedom Flotilla that local laws and penalties will apply in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
“We’ve given them this warning. Therefore, should they end up in prison as a result of breaching the law of Indonesia or Papua New Guinea we’ve got no obligation to give them consular support,” Carr said, according to news.com.au.
The West Papua Freedom Flotilla consists of three boats and at least 18 people.
The comment from the Australian Foreign Minister was not appreciated by Buzzacott, who was one of the chief organisers of the flotilla and captains one of the boats.
“It’s a shocking, shocking statement by Foreign Minister Carr, and also one of the Opposition, Julie Bishop. Pretty sad," Buzzacott told Drageset.
“I think these people should resign. I think they should be forced to resign. They can’t be in that high position and make statements like that.”
The Aboriginal campaigner outlined the consequences of not being helped by Australian authorities.
“We’ll be jailed and drawn out of the water by the Indonesians if we go too far, too close or something, and rot in the jails over there.”
Indonesian authorities have labelled the Freedom Flotilla “a cheap publicity stunt”.
An Indonesian minister told The Guardian that if the flotilla entered Indonesian waters “the armed forces will take measures”, and said that “the use of weaponry may not be necessary”
“There’s over 50,000 troops waiting for us. You know, three little yacht boats, and they’re gonna blow us out of the water. It’s like a war thing. We’re not about war. We’re about peace,” Buzzacott said.
NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have pointed to several human rights concerns in the Indonesia-controlled territory of West Papua.
Lack of fair trials, torture and excessive use of force, monitoring of peaceful activists and no foreign journalists being allowed in the country were some of the concerns the two NGOs have documented in recent reports.