On 9 September 2019 the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) travelled to Canberra with a petition of 17,000 signatures asking the government to vote for motions supporting West Papua’s self-determination in the UN General Assembly. Jacob Rumbiak and Ronny Kareni, with members of Australia West Papua Association (Melb) and FRWP Womens’ Office (Docklands) started the pilgrimage at the Netherlands Australia War Memorial to honour the nation’s Dutch colonial heritage, crossed Lake Burley Griffin to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to acknowledge Indigenous Sovereignty, and concluded at Parliament House with a Media Conference during which Andrew Wilkie MP and Greens Senators Richard di Natale and Janet Rice were handed the box of signatures. Later in the day Senator di Natale tabled the petition in the Senate. Three days later Nadine Rutter, who organised the petition, presented it to Herman Wainggai (ULMWP’S UN Representative) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Below is a photo-summary of the events, including a high-resolution PDF for download.
The pilgrimage began at the Netherlands Australia War Memorial, where Henri Licht talked about his recently published book We fought in the jungle, a translation from the Dutch of Sergeant Kokkelink’s vivid account of his time as a guerrilla fighter in West Papua (then Nederlands Nieuw Guinea) during World War II, which was published in 1956 and never reprinted.
Professor John Langmore’s review of We fought in the jungle
John Langmore, Review, We fought in the jungle, 09:09:19
The pilgrims then commenced a long walk, mostly singing and dancing, from the Netherlands Australia War Memorial to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to pay their respect to Indigenous Sovereignty, which has never been ceded.
From the Aboriginal Embassy it was a short hop to Parliament House for the Press Conference and presentation of the 17,000 signatures petitioning The Australian Government to vote for motions supporting West Papua’s self-determination in the UN General Assembly.
CLICK FOR FOR DOWNLOAD (PDF) Powerpoint for Website, 9 Sept 2019
Peter Woods’ Ghost Gum Morning Star (oil on Belgium linen, 1340mm x 920mm). “In 2013 my wife and I visited this magnificent tree in the East McDonnell Ranges out of Alice Springs, Central Australia. We were filled with awe – it is a tree over 300 year old and measures 33 metres tall – and I knew I had to paint it. While it is popularly called a Ghost Gum the tree is technically Corymbia Papuana, originally named for the specimens of the tree found in the land of West Papua/Papua New Guinea which once shared an undivided land mass with north Australia. The Morning Star flag is an emblem of resistance and celebrates the nationhood West Papuans claim and so far have been denied. My painting morphs the Papuana tree into the star of the flag, reminding Australians of their linked geographical history, and a symbol of the responsibility of Australians to help resolve the injustice north of our shores. I have included a distressed red-tailed black cockatoo, also indigenous to the area, alerting us with its cry.” (Catalogue, 2016 Sampari Art Exhibition & Sale for West Papua). More of Peter Woods’ art at https://www.facebook.com/peterwoodsart/