ANZAC Day Message 2016
April 24, 2016
Today, on ANZAC Day we remember the incredible commitment of our brave ANZAC heores who fought and died alongside one another, helping to keep our region Independent and free.
I truly hope that this year we will keep the ANZAC spirit alive by remembering all those who
helped to serve, including the truly brave West Papuan and Papua New Guineans also known as “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” who famously saved the lives of many Australian and other Allied troops in World War II.
Not only did Papuans help Diggers and other Allied troops on the Kokoda Track, they also helped them in West Papua and some of the most important battles fought to help keep Australia and the region safe were in West Papua.
Earlier this year I had the privilege of meeting with Australian ANZAC veteran James Burrowes and his son Robert. James had served in West Papua and had fought alongside West Papuans to prevent the Japanese occupation of Australia. He recalled several moving stories about his time with his West Papuan comrades and I encouraged him to write about his experiences so that the forgotten heroes who fought in West Papua could be remembered at last.
In February, James and his son Robert published an account of James’ experiences in the form of an inspirational open letter to the people of West Papua. As well as including two powerful photos as evidence of his West Papuan comradeship, the letter evoked meaningful memories of James’ time with the people of West Papua.
He ended the letter with a poignant message of solidarity, saying “I sincerely wish you the very best of success in your long-term struggle for independence. You helped us to preserve the independence of Australia from Japan.”
My people are very proud to have helped Allied troops in World War II and to have helped preserve Australia’s Independence; however now we West Papuans are struggling for our own Independence and in desperate need of our Australian family to please help us in our time of need too. I am very encouraged that the new generation of Australians is increasingly speaking out in support of West Papua’s freedom and that they continue to learn about the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels who helped to save the lives of their ancestors in World War II. I hope that the people of Australia will continue to remember the commitment and servitude of Australia’s closest neighbors in West Papua, who fought and gave their lives to help Australia remain Independent.
We West Papuans are hoping and praying that our Australian and New Zealand family will bring West Papua as a regional issue back to the other members of our region and that we may come together once again in the bonds of comradeship and as good neighbors. After all, West Papua is closer to Australia than Sydney is to Canberra.
Because of the incredible commitment of fhis fighting and dying together to preserve our nations’ Independence we have a shared history of unbreakable bonds through struggling together. Let the ANZAC spirit bind us together and be with us all as we continue to work together on finally liberating our region from occupation once and for all.
Lest We Forget
West Papuan Independence Leader
Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP)