Winners of the 1st December Flag Raising award, 2015
December 12, 2015
The Free West Papua Campaign is very happy to announce the winners of this year’s 1st December Flag Raising award!
This year there are 3 winners of the award! Congratulations to Jennifer Miran in Cairns, Australia; the West Papua solidarity group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Rikin Kaloran in Port Vila, Vanuatu!
Every year on 1st December, the people of West Papua celebrate their National Day, marking the anniversary of the time the West Papuan flag was first raised on 1st December 1961, with the promise of full Independence exactly 9 years later.
This is accompanied in solidarity with Global Flag Raising, when the West Papuan flag is raised all around the world to show support for the West Papuan people and their struggle for freedom.
Staring with last year, we decided to encourage people to take dramatic photos of themselves raising the West Papuan flag, and thereby raising more awareness and interest in the West Papuan struggle.
We agreed to send a Free West Papua poster hand signed by West Papuan Independence Leader and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Benny Wenda to the individual/group who we feel has taken the best/most dramatic photo.
The winners 2015
Congratulations Jennifer Miran in Cairns, Australia; the West Papua solidarity group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Rikin Kaloran in Port Vila, Vanuatu! You will all soon receive a Free West Papua poster hand signed by Benny Wenda and a letter of thanks!
We feel that all 3 of these flag raisings showed great creativity and passion for the cause, as well as raising significant interest and awareness in the West Papuan freedom struggle. After discussing with Benny Wenda and the Free West Papua Campaign Team, we decided that each of them should win the flag raising award.
Here’s a little information about the winners; why we chose them and why they chose to raise the West Papuan flag in this way.
We chose this photo because it caught a lot of attention both in Cairns and on social media. It was carefully planned photo with good quality and very unique! Jennifer actually spent the day riding around Cairns to raise support for West Papua’s freedom!
We are also very grateful for the big Free West Papua event Jennifer helped to organise earlier this year which was increased a lot of support for the Free West Papua cause from the city of Cairns. Speaking about the flag raising after we told her she was a winner, Jennifer said,
“On this day I knew that riding around with the flag meant I was a free woman. As a free woman my voice could resonate and bring awareness to others around the world. Riding around Cairns with the Morning Star was an amazing feeling. I knew it would turn heads and even if people didn’t know what the flag was they would remember it when they saw it again hopefully through social media. This then would spark their interest in West Papua. I had some people waving back or putting the fist in the air. It was fantastic to openly support the day with so many others. When I scrolled through all the supporters and their flags on the Free West Papua page I had tears of joy. In this time of terror I believe people are inherently good and it is time we no longer stand by while human atrocities are committed. I will support the human rights of the West Papuan people and their right to self determination.”
West Papua solidarity group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa
We feel that this photo is a very powerful and poignant show of global and particularly Pan-Pacific solidarity for West Papua’s freedom because the supporters came from all around the Pacific and across the world. They spent a lot of time getting things prepared for this demonstration and it appears very striking on a traditional Pacific tapa cloth and against the backdrop of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Solomon Islands Professor Dr. Tarcisius Tara and Lee Kava also made moving poem to commemorate West Papua National Day. Rorongo Mai/Fanongo Mai tells of Pacific traditions and emphasises the eternal connections that binds Pacific Islands together in the spirit of unity and solidarity for West Papua.
In view of all this support, we feel that this photo represents true Pan-Pacific solidarity, something which is so vital for the West Papuan people during the ongoing illegal occupation and genocide of West Papuan Pacific Islanders.
We were very happy to see Rifkin’s captivating photo as last year he also raised the West Papuan flag under the seas in Vanuatu and this actually gave us the original inspiration to hold this flag raising award! We feel that this was a particularly brave and difficult flag raising, whilst being equally dramatic and creative. We are always happy to see more Melanesian solidarity from our brothers and sisters in Vanuatu and as Rifkin he made the same flag raising this year, we feel this was very worthy of winning the award. When we told Rifkin he had won the award, he said to us,
“Well seeing the different West Papua flag raisings around the world I wanted to do something different! To attract people’s attention to the issue with a different scenery. I grew up with the west Papuan issue, have West Papuan families, I’ll do anything to spread the word for Free West Papua!”
Our thanks to all flag raisers
We would like to thank and congratulate the Winners of this year’s flag raising award as well everyone around the world who raised the West Papuan flag on 1st December. This year there was a truly incredible response to the #GlobalFlagRaising call and we received over 200 photos from over 30 countries worldwide! On our Facebook Page alone, we reached about 2 million people in one week!
Though we feel the above photos were particularly dramatic, all of the photos taken and flag raisings made were of real importance and meant so much to the people of West Papua who do not have the freedom to raise their own national flag in their own country.
“On behalf of my people I would like to thank you all for all the outstanding support shown for West Papua’s freedom during the Global Flag Raising on 1st December 2015; West Papua’s National Day. Please do continue to spread the message, write to your representatives and parliamentarians, bring people together and keep up all the fantastic support for West Papua’s freedom. The Morning Star of West Papua is truly rising around the world.
One day, we are sure that it will rise in a Free West Papua!”
This comes from the thank you letter to all those who took part in this year’s Global Flag Raising for a Free West Papua, written by West Papuan Independence Leader Benny Wenda. You can read the full letter here.
…And a special announcement
Earlier this year, Campaign founder and West Papuan Independence Leader Benny Wenda decided that he would like to honour long term supporters of his people by presenting them with a special award. It has been decided that from next year onwards, a Free West Papua award will be presented to the group/individual who we feel has made a particularly special contribution in helping the freedom struggle. The award will be passed around every year until West Papua is finally free when it will be brought back home to West Papua. All of the winners will be recorded as having an important part in the history of the West Papuan freedom struggle.
We look forward to giving more information about the Free West Papua award in the next few months.
Until then, please do keep up all the worldwide support for West Papua’s freedom! The Campaign has made small steps and huge strides down the long road to freedom this year. The world is waking up and supporting the cries of the West Papuan people.
Let us continue walking down the road and together, we will Free West Papua!