The ‘Morning Star’: a symbol of freedom for West Papua | Australian Greens

The ‘Morning Star’: a symbol of freedom for West Papua

 In West Papua, anyone who raises the 'Morning Star' flag—the province's symbol of independencefaces arrest, jail and even torture. That's why Greens MPs are committed to keeping the issue of West Papuan independence alive and urgent.

By Viv Glance
Thursday, February 22, 2018

The right to self-determination is guaranteed by the UN to all people in the worldincluding the people of West Papua, who have been fighting for independence from Indonesia for decades.

It was on December 1 1961, West Papua’s original independence day, that the ‘Morning Star’ flag was first raised. Following this act of self-determination, Indonesia invaded the territory and many West Papuans have been killed or imprisoned by the occupying Indonesian military ever since.

This flag is seen as the national flag of West Papua and it continues to stand as a symbol of hope for a free West Papua. But even today, anyone who raises this flag in West Papua faces arrest, torture and a long jail sentence. 

Greens MPs continue to do important work to keep the issue of West Papuan independence alive and urgent. This includes Senator Richard Di Natale’s recent meeting with West Papuans and their supporters, on 3 February in Melbourne.

The tragedy in West Papua was highlighted during the recent Australian Greens National Conference in Hobart last November. Two proposals were passed: one to raise awareness about West Papua through a social media campaign; the other included a request to State and Federal MPs to fly the ‘Morning Star’ flag on December 1.

Flag flying has been a part of the December 1 Global Day of Action for West Papua for several years (see here for the 2017 campaign). Supporters are asked to take photos of themselves holding the 'Morning Star' flag to show their solidarity with West Papua, and to post it to social media. This annual action is growing each year, and the world is becoming more and more aware of the desperate situation in West Papua.

Even though it is early in 2018, you could use the months in the lead up to the Global Day of Action to meet with local Free West Papua Support Groups in your area, attend their events or host one for your local Greens group, or research the history of this country and the resistance of its people.

The Australian Greens Global Issues Group (GIG) will help make the National Conference proposals a reality throughout this year. GIG was set up to strengthen our involvement in global Greens issues, as well supporting delegates to attend international meetings such as the Global Greens Congress. GIG will continue to build awareness and highlight the progress of the Global Greens Movement, both in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Contact your state GIG working group delegate to see how you can become involved with the global issues that affect us all.

You can follow the issues we’re highlighting by liking our Australian Greens Go Global Facebook page, or by asking your state office to add you to the GIG email list.

And watch out for other campaigns and actions that GIG working group members will be working on over the coming year to build the global Greens movement.