Australia: activists target Thales factory in solidarity with West Papua
On 1st April, activists the Make West Papua Safe (MWPS) campaign occupied the lobby of a Thales Australia building, and displayed images of West Papuan activists killed by security forces in the last year. Thales is among one of many arms companies to arm Kopassus, Indonesia's special forces group, which have been instrumental in human rights abuses against West Papuans. For example, Thales has worked with Indonesia's state arms company Pindad to manufacture 50 Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, a four-wheel armoured vehicle.
The group returned to Thales on 6th April, occupying the roof and hanging banners. This time the Make West Papua Safe were acting in solidarity with West Papuan activists taking part in a rally ro demand the closing of the Freeport mine. Freeport is the world's seventh largest gold mine and second largest copper mine, and has been linked to "poverty, disease, oppression and environmental degradation" for indigenous West Papuans since it opened in 1973.
West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea and has been under Indonesian occupation since 1961, when the Dutch colonial occupation ended. A popular and overwhelmingly nonviolent movement for self-determination has faced regular oppression from the Indonesian army and military.