Artistic Intervention to Support Human Rights in West Papua

10:30am, Sunday 1 December
Wellesley & Queen Street Intersection, Central Auckland

On West Papuan Independence day—1 December—a group of indigenous Maori and Pacific women performers will stage an artistic intervention in Queen Street, central Auckland, to raise awareness of human rights abuses in West Papua.

Despite risking long jail sentences West Papuans continue to mobilise and raise the banned Morning Star flag on 1 December.

The performance will begin at 10:30am and travel from Selwyn Muru’s Waharoa at the entrance of Aotea Square, down Queen Street.

With support from West Papua Action Auckland (WPAA) the Morning Star flag—the flag of West Papua—will be raised in an act of solidarity.

Leilani Salesa, a member of WPAA and coordinator of the performance, said: “We are staging this artistic intervention because our freedom as indigenous Maori and Pacific women in Aotearoa/New Zealand is inextricably bound up with that of our indigenous West Papua brothers and sisters. We call on all New Zealanders to take notice, that at this very moment in the Pacific, there is a genocide taking place”.

The performers will join a day of mass action worldwide, with demonstrations planned in Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Moresby, London, The Hague, and many other places.

1 December is the anniversary of the 1961 West Papuan Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonial rule. In 1963 Indonesia took military and territorial control of the administration of West Papua against the will of the indigenous population. Human rights groups estimate that some 100,000 West Papuan people have died in the ongoing conflict.

West Papuan people are constantly terrorised by the Indonesian military, paramilitary police and intelligence agencies, while movements of journalists and humanitarian workers are excluded or tightly restricted. Despite risking long jail sentences West Papuans continue to mobilise and raise the banned Morning Star flag on 1 December.

Media enquiries:

For information about the 1 December event or for photos of the performance please contact Leilani Salesa on 021 743 647 or

For general information about WPAA please contact Marni Gilbert on


  • Globally there is a growing movement of solidarity for West Papua and recognition of the need for urgent action.
  • In September 2013 Prime Minister of Vanuatu Moana Kalosil Carcasses called on the United Nations to urgently appoint a special representative to investigate allegations of current and historic human rights abuses in West Papua as well as West Papua’s political status. Kalosil said West Papuans had been consistently denied any sort of recognition by the world body.
  • A 2013 report in the Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity by Dr Jim Elmslie and Dr Camellia Webb-Gannon shows the Indonesian Government is responsible for genocide in West Papua. The authors found that accumulated evidence over the past 50 years is now of such strength that it meets the criteria for genocide set out in the 1948 Genocide Convention.
  • An online campaign Papuans Behind Bars launched in 2013 documents the growing numbers of political prisoners in West Papua, many of whom have suffered arbitrary arrest, violence, abuse, torture, unfair trials, intimidation and neglect.  The current Police Chief Tito Karnavian trained in New Zealand in 1998 at our Defence College. He is believed to be responsible for the current repressive policing practice. In 2013, the New Zealand Government announced plans to restart its Papuan Community Policing programme in West Papua.
  • Canadian human rights activist Jeremy Bally visited New Zealand in October as part of his 12,000km international cycling and performance tour Pedalling for Papua. The Free West Papua Campaign, co-launched by West Papuan Independence leader Benny Wenda (who visited NZ in 2012) now has permanent offices in Oxford, The Hague and Port Moresby. Likewise the International Lawyers for West Papua and International Parliamentarians for West Papua are growing in numbers.  Also driving this global movement are numerous largely volunteer run organisations and campaigns coordinated by solidarity activists and West Papuans living in exile (see Rize of the Morning Star).

West Papua Action Auckland (WPAA) is an informal and independent group of volunteers that share a commitment to support and promote human rights in West Papua and maintain a watching brief on NZ Government policy. As a solidarity organisation, WPAA believes that specific campaigns should be influenced by the kinds of campaigns and priorities taken by West Papuans.

One Response to “In solidarity, 1 December #FreeWestPapua x #PacificArt”

  1. andrew767

    Today’s abuse, intimidation, and exploitation of West Papua is a United Nations responsibility. New Zealand and the UN General Assembly made the mistake of occupying West Papua in 1962 and then asking Indonesia in 1963 to occupy and administrate the colony on behalf of the United Nations.

    For fifty years people have been killed and their nation exploited by foreign powers because no UN member has yet sent notice of the General Assembly action resolution 1752 (XVII) to the UN Trusteeship Council. Once somebody adds notice of res.1752 (XVII) to the agenda of the Trusteeship Council it should be compelled to commence its legal duties under articles 85, 87, and 88 of the UN Charter; which should compel the rest of the UN to honour its legal obligation under article 76 of the Charter until West Papua becomes a fellow member of the UN.

    You can find the UN Charter at


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