image

The Freedom Flotilla’s flagship the Pog is set to sail for West Papua on this morning’s tide. A military buildup in the Flotilla’s destination port of Merauke has been confirmed, with 2500 troops having arrived on the 28th of August to bolster numbers at the Indonesian border.

Undeterred, the core crew of activists have committed themselves to carrying out their peaceful mission to conduct a ceremony sharing the Sacred Waters from the mound springs of Lake Eyre, and the ashes of Sacred Fires from Aboriginal Tent Embassies across Australia.

The additional troops are suspected to have been deployed to crack down on a welcome ceremonies planned for the Freedom Flotilla. Locals from across Merauke district gathered on the 28th of August as the military reinforcements sailed into harbour, preparing garlands of flowers to welcome the Indigenous elders and crew to their land.

On the same day, four organisers of a congregation held in Sorong to pray for the safety of the Freedom Flotilla were arrested and charged with treason.

Indonesian Navy Patrol boats have also been photographed and sighted patrolling the Indonesian border.

The Freedom Flotilla has decided to sail directly to Merauke, rather than via the PNG port of Daru. Locals in Daru have reported Australian Defence Force personnel arriving in the past weeks, with pictures confirming 7 zodiacs and 21 personnel arriving in a Hercules aircraft. Fisherman also reported the presence of a Australian Navy vessel near the maritime border. A Papua New Guinea Defence Force helicopter was also sighted circling the island. Freedom Flotilla organiser Ronny Kareni said “the sudden military presence is highly unusual, it surprised and terrified the villagers on the island who had been organising for a peaceful welcome.”

Australia’s incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop, has stated that the Indonesian military may do “whatever it wishes” against the Freedom Flotilla. The Indonesian military has not ruled out the use of lethal force. Greens Senator Richard di Natale accused the new minister of inciting military action against peaceful protest in the Guardian on the 5th of September. He stated that her comments were “not befitting somebody who is likely to become the next foreign minister.”

Izzy Brown stated on the freedomflotillawestpapua.org ‘Pogcast’ (8/9/13) that now the “worse of two evils” had won the Australian election, there was “all the more reason to challenge both the Australian and the Indonesian Governments jurisdiction over these waterways.”

The Flotilla expects to arrive at the Indonesian border in the two to five days.
Ruben Blake