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Free West Papua 15 years jail for raising this flag

Date: 2006
Overall: 570 x 300 mm
Medium: Fabric
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Joe Collins
Object Name: T-shirt
Object No: 00044385

User Terms


    Post World War II, the eastern half of New Guinea reverted to Australia and became the Territory of Papua & New Guinea. Indonesia took control of Dutch New Guinea in 1963 (incorporating it into the Indonesian state as Irian Jaya). West Papua has been seeking sovereignty since the United Nations officially handed the province to Indonesia in 1969.

    Following the Indonesian takeover, West Papuans organised a guerrilla resistance movement - Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM) - which fought Indonesian forces with limited success. Tensions decreased markedly after 1985 as the flow of refugees (estimated at over 10,000) between Irian Jaya (now called West Papua) and PNG slowed. There are still 7,500 West Papuan refugees living in camps in Western Province - the largest expatriate group in the country.

    In January 2006, 43 West Papuan asylum seekers arrived in Australia by outrigger canoe. The group accused the Indonesian military of 'conducting genocide in their homeland.' It seems the group had been forced to flee Papua by boat because the usual way of leaving the province — by crossing the eastern border into Papua New Guinea — had been rendered more difficult by increased surveillance. The 36 adults and seven children spent five days at sea in a traditional 25 metre long outrigger before arriving in Cape York, Far North Queensland. They were detained under Australia's Mandatory Detention policy before the Australian government granted temporary visas to 42 of the asylum seekers.

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