The Morning Star flag of West Papua was hoisted alongside its Australian and Australian Aboriginal counterparts outside the Lithgow City Council offices on Friday, December 1.
Lithgow resident Anthony Craig decided to make the stand to bring attention to what he has previously described as the “slow-motion genocide” of the people of West Papua.
Mr Craig is also the current leader of the Free West Papua Party of Australia.
Free West Papua supporters fly the Morning Star on December 1 each year to commemorate when the flag was first raised in 1961.
It was hoped this occasion would introduce independence for West Papua with the withdrawal of the Dutch colonial administration the following year.
However West Papua came under the occupation of Indonesia soon after and continues to be considered an Indonesian colony.
Today the flag is a symbol of the island’s fight for independence from Indonesia. Raising the Morning Star in West Papua can result in 15 years in prison.
A pamphlet distributed by the Free West Papua Party said, “For the last fifty years the people of West Papua have suffered under an Indonesian military occupation which has stolen their resources, their freedom and their dignity… Over 500,000 civilians have been killed.”
Mr Craig was joined by West Papuan Patianus Kogoya, who now lives in Bundaberg, and Hazelbrook’s Roger Bowen.
Together the three men erected a mobile flag pole on the back of a ute parked outside the council offices.
The Morning Star flag was hoisted and flew high and proud for around 20 minutes before pole was deconstructed.
They then drove to Bathurst to do the same at the bridge of flags on the Great Western Highway at midday.
Anthony Craig, a retired nurse and paramedic, returned from a fact finding mission to West Papuan refugee camps in PNG in July.
He previously visited West Papua on a fact finding mission in 2015.
Over 10,500 West Papuan refugees are currently being house in camps in PNG.
Mr Craig along with several human rights agencies claim the refugees have fled from the Indonesian police and military who were torturing and murdering them.
Mr Kogoya previously worked in a foreign owned gold mine in West Papua and was sent to Australia to study by his company with around 30 others in 1997.
However he never returned to his homeland as he believed he would be safer here.
“All of my friends, they went back to West Papua and most of them passed away, they died suddenly,” Mr Kogoya said.
Mr Kogoya believed his friends were targeted by the Indonesian military due to their newfound ability to speak English and fresh understanding of the world outside of West Papua.
“West Papua is a dangerous place… we need human rights attention on what is going on in West Papua,” he said.