Aussie Soap Company Takes on Human Rights in West Papua
21 August 2012 at 3:27 pm
The West Papuan Morning Star flag
Aussie soap company, Lush Cosmetics, is campaigning against human rights abuses in West Papua and has raised the troubled country’s banned Morning Star flag in stores nationally this week to highlight its plight.
Megan Taylor, the Lush Campaigns Manager says “the people of West Papua have been struggling against violence and oppression for decades, and their voices are rarely heard beyond the barrier put up by the Indonesian authorities. We hope that by running this campaign we can raise awareness of their struggle and help bring about a free and independent West Papua.”
The red, white and blue Morning Star flag has become a symbol of resistance and the calls for independence for the people of West Papua. Ever since Indonesia took control of the country in the 1960s raising the flag has been banned and many people have been persecuted and imprisoned for doing so.
Taylor says right now freedom fighter Filep Karma is serving 15 years in jail for raising the Morning Star at a rally in 2004 and is recognised as a prisoner of conscience by human rights groups around the world.
Lush is calling for his immediate release, as well as the release of all West Papuan political prisoners and for a free and fair referendum for all people in West Papua to give them the opportunity to determine their own future.
Taylor says since the start of the Indonesian occupation, it is estimated that 400,000 West Papuans have been killed in what has been termed a ‘slow-motion genocide’.
Lush is supporting the Rize of the Morning Star campaign and for one week the company says it is giving all of the money (minus GST) from the sale of their Smell Of Freedom perfume to the campaign group.
Taylor says Lush is a subsidiary of its UK parent company and focuses on environmental, human rights and animals rights issues as part of its business model.
“Lush regularly uses its stores and web presence as a platform for campaigning organisations. First and foremost we are an ethical campaigning company that sells soap,” she said.
“We can use our public profile through 34 stores in Australia and New Zealand to give a voice to many Not for Profit organisations that might not normally have a voice.
“We are asking our customers to sign a petition to Prime Minister Gillard to action on the human rights abuses in West Papua.”
Previous Lush campaigns have included calling for an end to shark finning with the Sea Shepherd, petitioned against the Australian and New Zealand coal mining industry and campaigned for marriage equality by staging a national ‘kiss and tell’ protest across all of its stores.
The Rize of the Morning Star campaign for West Papua is a newly established organisation in Australia working to highlight the history of West Papua and to utilize the power of music, film, social media and the entertainment industry to play a key role in sharing resources, skills and knowledge for the future of West Papua.
The organisation is run by Melanesian activists; Ronny Kareni, Airileke Ingram and Petra Rumwaropen and auspice by the Federated Republic of West Papua in West Papua, Australia and abroad to campaign for the international community to recognise the transitional government of West Papua.
Ronny Kareni from the Rize of the Morning Star campaign says Australia has the power to bring about real change.
“As West Papua’s closest neighbour, it must lead the peacekeeping force and encourage a dialogue between the Indonesian and Australian government. By standing up and taking action, we can help provide a voice to West Papuans in their fight for freedom.”
Follow the campaign online here.