Solomon Islands Solidarity for West Papua joined other groups in the Pacific and around the globe today in raising the West Papuan flag and advocating for the freedom of people in the Indonesian region.
Representative of the solidarity group in Solomon Islands Lily Chekana said people raise the West Papuan flag, the Morning Star, on this day every year.
December 1 marks the anniversary of West Papua’s first declaration of independence in 1961 before Indonesia took control of the territory.
And the flag symbolises freedom for the people of West Papua.
Ms Chekana said although the loss of independence was unfortunate, it did not steal the people’s optimism.
“They look at every 1st of December as a day that will always give hope that one day they will raise the West Papuan flag in their own country,” she said.
Local supporters raised the Morning Star on their houses and along the streets, and the solidarity group also asked taxi operators to display the flag on their cars.
But the group’s support for West Papua goes beyond the demonstration today.
Ms Chekana said the issues in the region deserve international attention, and she applauded former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s efforts to highlight West Papua on the world stage.
“Without him, the international community would not have heard about the issue of West Papua,” she said.
Her group plans to work closely with the new Prime Minister to continue its advocacy for people in the region.
“The West Papua issue is a human rights issue,” she said. “And if it is a human rights issue, it’s everybody’s issue.”
By Fred Osifelo