Campaign sheds light on West Papuans' plight

EMMA BEER
Last updated 13:00 23/08/2012
Kirsty Keen
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ

STAND AGAINST TYRANNY: Kirsty Keen, the Lush Cosmetics Nelson store manager, has her lips taped shut to signify the oppression of people in West Papua who live under Indonesian rule.

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A campaign to help the native people of West Papua has been launched in Nelson.

Lush Cosmetics is this week inviting people to learn more about the Free West Papua campaign and support it through a petition and sale of one of their fragrances, the Smell of Freedom.

West Papua forms the western half of New Guinea and has been a province of Indonesia since the 1960s.

Store manager Kirsty Keen yesterday wore tape across her mouth, signalling the oppression and silence of those in West Papua.

Lush worker Tim Guthrey said the campaign was about getting people to realise the plight of West Papuans.

Human rights groups estimate that under Indonesian rule about 100,000 people have died in ongoing conflicts, which have been described as "slow-motion genocide", he said.

Lush is an international chain of stores and the banned Morning Star flag, a symbol of resistance in West Papua, was being put in store windows around the world.

Mr Guthrey said the shop would also be donating all proceeds, minus GST, from the sale of their fragrance Smell of Freedom to the Indonesia Human Rights Committee, an organisation which aims to build links between New Zealand and West Papua.

Raising the banned Morning Star flag illegally had seen at least one man being jailed for 15 years, Mr Guthrey said.

"We've got a petition going to send to the New Zealand Government, asking for their help to release political prisoners and for support in getting the West Papuan people their freedom."

Lush campaigns manager Megan Taylor said the people of West Papua had been struggling against violence and oppression for decades. "Their voices are rarely heard beyond the barrier put up by Indonesian authorities. We hope that by running this campaign we can raise awareness of their struggle."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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