Does A Freedom of Expression in Australia Trigger A Diplomatic Problem?
An artist who painted the Free Papua Movement flag on the wall of a building in Darwin, Australia, has reportedly been asked by the building owner to erase the mural. The request was allegedly made due to “external pressures”.
Randazzo Properties (RP), the owner of the building, expects the mural to be removed from the wall this week, Kompas.com reported, citing a written statement as quoted from AustraliaPlus, on Monday. RP is said to have contacted the owners of buildings located in proximity to the wall to request access so that the mural can be removed. “Due to external pressure, I have requested that the mural be removed as soon as possible […],” a Randazzo Properties employee wrote in an email.
Free West Papua activists in Australia admitted that they had been informed of the mural removal request made by RP. The activists allege that the “external party” mentioned by RP was the Indonesian Consulate General in Darwin. The Indonesian Consul in Darwin, Andre Siregar, claims not to have had any contact with the owner of the building in question. However, the consul admitted that in August 2015 he had written a letter to the Northern Territory government voicing objection to the separatist mural.
While claiming to respect freedom of expression in Australia, Andre considered that physically, the mural was located in close proximity to both the Indonesian Consulate General and Australian Parliament buildings, potentially raising questions regarding the level of Australian support for the Free Papuan Movement among Indonesian officials who visited the country.
Andre said there were two people in Darwin who support the Free Papuan Movement, including the mural artist, Juni Mills. Mills claims that the wall has been used by different artists to convey various messages for years, adding that the mural was designed to show solidarity between Papuans and Indigenous Australians. “This mural shows respect, love and solidarity for West Papuan people,” said Mills.
“People cannot raise the West Papua flag in West Papua. They will be killed or imprisoned or punished,” said the artist. “So we painted the flag here as a form of solidarity […] We acknowledge their struggle,” she said.
The main problem, Mills further said, was that the Indonesian government did not want the struggle of the Free Papuan Movement to spread abroad. “They want to block information on anything that has occurred in West Papua,” said Mills. The artist said the mural was painted in June 2015.
Mills believed that the order to remove the mural was related to a conference to be held soon at the Charles Darwin University. The Indonesian conference will invite academics, researches, lecturers and students of different disciplines to discuss the latest information on developments in Indonesia.
On the issue of the mural, RP executives have not yet provided a statement. Several activists gathered at the location of the mural on Saturday to protest the removal request.
A Separatist Mural is A Separatist Propaganda
Unfortunetely, Juni Mills hasn’t informed about Papua perfectly, so she has a wrong opinion about the development progress and a human right progress in Papua. These fact has pulled her to make a wrong activities and finally she has been victiminized by the Free Papua Movement supporters whom lived in Australia.
I think the action of RP is absolutely right, because the firm doesn’t want to be an actor who could be broken a diplomatic relation between Indonesia and Australia next time if Australia is always supporting the Free Papua Movement activist by the name of freedom of expression.
Juni Mills said that People cannot raise the West Papua flag in West Papua. They will be killed or imprisoned or punished. Her statement has shown an artist didn’t understand that raising a separatist flag in the territory of independence country such as Indonesia is a political and law violation. Furthermore, the stricly action must be done on it.
Another false statement from Juni Mills is the main problem was that the Indonesian government did not want the struggle of the Free Papuan Movement to spread abroad. “They want to block information on anything that has occurred in West Papua,” said Mills.
Juni Mills need to understand that the stance of Indonesia government on a Papua’s problem is finished. The Indonesia government had been voiced that Papua is a legal territory of Indonesia. Whoever which trying to separate Papua from Indonesia will be faced Indonesia’s struggle. Indonesia’s struggle to depending Papua can be taken by politic, diplomatic, economic, social cultural and military way to whoever which disturbing Papua territory. The stance of Indonesia goverment is a clear. We aren’t looking forward an enemy but if an enemy was existed infront of us, we’re never surrendered and never gave up.
A separatist mural is also a part of a separatist propaganda. This action has a purpose Papua’s problem will pay a more attention from abroad. The painting of the Free Papua Movement flag on the wall of a building in Darwin, Australia has to be give more attention specially for Australian government if the diplomatic relations between two countries has been made problem. Indirectly, a mural and an existence of Free Papua Movement activist in Australia has been shown that the goverment of Australia was supported a separatist group’s eventhough many times the Australia government had been declared Papua is a legal part of Indonesia and Australia has not been supported any kind of a separatist movement in Indonesia. If the Indonesian Consulate General in Darwin was protested on a mural, it didn’t blame because they were done their main task to protect a national interest whereever they stayed.
A lesson learnt from those accident is the Australia goverment can bann a political matters or political propaganda which will break the diplomatic ties between two countries. If it’s happen, the Free Papua Movement and a radical group in Australia will happy to hear it.
Whatever any reason, supporting a separatist movement is forbidden to do it because its can harm a diplomatic ties and its an international relations violation.
*) Jelita Chantiqa is a Papua observer. Residing in Jakarta.