The Flag of the Morning Star: A Shared Identity, Legacy and Struggle
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) joins the 60th West Papua Flag Raising Day, celebrating the continuing struggle of the indigenous peoples of West Papua for genuine peace, human rights man and the right to self-determination.
The Morning Star Flag (Bintang Kejora) was originally erected as the national flag of West Papua on December 1, 1961, in a symbolic declaration of the country’s independence from the Netherlands. Indonesia would subsequently launch Operation Trikora a few weeks later, starting its occupation of West Papua and the ensuing ban on the Morning Star flag.
Celebrating this year remains of particular significance amid the pandemic and the growing challenges facing West Papuans. Criminalization and terrorist branding of Papuans increases as 20 political prisoners, including IPMSDL partner Victor Yeimo, remain in jail. Massive displacement, especially in the highlands, due to Indonesian military operations has resulted in an estimated 60,000 internally displaced people. The death toll from military bullets exceeds pandemic mortality, with the death toll in West Papua reaching 50,000 since 2010.
The land of West Papua remains a land grabbing haven for local colonizers and foreign imperialists as the Indonesian government continues to host destructive palm oil and mining projects. The Indonesian government’s attempt to stifle the call for self-determination brought about the Special Autonomy Law which, in effect, only maintains Indonesian control over West Papua’s land, resources and life.
These challenges give full meaning to hoisting the Morning Star flag. It becomes more than a symbolic but real affirmation of the shared sense of West Papua’s identity, history, heritage and freedom.
Freedom in West Papua means self-determination. It is only with the right to self-determination that West Papuans can realize their full potential without being hampered by colonial and imperialist rule. Their freedom is not simply what fulfills their aspirations for freedom; this is what allows them to dream in the first place.
As a song from West Papua says: “Let the morning star rise, let the freedom of culture fly high”. Let us join West Papuans around the world in hoisting the Morning Star flag and stand in solidarity with his people!
Free West Papua!
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