Indonesian navy ships have reportedly been sent to waters near Papua New Guinea’s border with the disputed Indonesian territory of Papua in a show of force apparently aimed at a group of Australian activists headed there on boats.
Sources in Papua New Guinea have told Australian supporters of the “Freedom Flotilla to West Papua” that at least two Indonesian ships are in the area, one patrolling the maritime boundary and the other, which is stationed south of Merauke, off the coast of West Papua, intercepting and searching all vessels leaving the port.
The Indonesian government has previously said that the air force and army would patrol the area where the activists’ boats are expected to arrive and would “take measures” if they entered Indonesian waters.
The activists, who plan to land on Daru Island, in south-western PNG, have not yet left Australian waters.
Freedom Flotilla organiser Izzy Brown said they were undeterred by news of the Indonesian navy presence and would continue their journey.
“I don’t know if that’s our welcoming committee or what, but here we come!” Brown said by satellite phone from Stanley Island, in the Flinders Group of islands yesterday.
Peaceful marches expressing support for the Freedom Flotilla took place in two towns in West Papua yesterday, as well as in Melbourne.