|Photo: The mural depicting the West Papuan 'Morning Star' flag was painted in June 2015. (ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)|
The artists who painted a mural depicting the West Papuan "Morning Star" flag on a wall in Darwin's CBD have been asked by the property owners to paint over it as a "matter of urgency" following the application of "external pressures".Tabloid-Wani - In an email obtained by the ABC, an employee for Randazzo Properties told a representative from the artist group that the owners of the wall wanted the mural to be painted over this weekend and had contacted the neighbouring property owner to allow access.
"Due to some external pressures I have been asked to see the wall painted out as a matter of urgency and have started putting things in place," the Randazzo Properties employee stated in the email.
Activists from Australians for a Free West Papua told the ABC they had been told by the same Randazzo Properties employee that the "external pressure" was the Indonesian consulate in Darwin.
The Indonesian Consul in Darwin, Andre Siregar, said while he had not been in contact with the wall's owner, he had written to the Northern Territory Government in August 2015 to register his opposition to the depiction of the West Papuan flag.
Mr Siregar said he acknowledged "freedom of expression" in Australia, but that the mural's close physical proximity to both the office of the Indonesian Consulate and to Parliament House had raised questions from visiting Indonesian officials over the level of support in Australia for the West Papuan Independence movement.
Mr Siregar said he believed there were about "two people" in Darwin who supported the West Papuan Independence movement.
Artists defiant as they apply anti-graffiti paint to muralOne of the mural's artists, June Mills, said that the wall had been used by different artists over the years with a variety of messages.
As a Larrakia elder, Ms Mills said the mural had been designed to show solidarity between the people of West Papua and Aboriginal people.
"This mural has been painted out of respect and love and solidarity with the West Papuan people," Ms Mills said.
"People cannot raise the West Papuan flag in West Papua — they are killed, or if not killed, jailed, or severely punished in some form.
"So we've painted the flag here, in solidarity with the Aboriginal flag — we are both recognising the struggle, and the real issue is they want that gone, because they don't want the message out, they're suppressing the information about what is happening in West Papua."
Ms Mills said the mural was first painted in June 2015, and she believed the sudden urgency around the removal of the mural was due to an upcoming conference hosted by Charles Darwin University.
The Understanding Indonesia conference will host academics, researchers, teachers, and students of different disciplines to discuss new information and recent developments concerning Indonesia.
The ABC has contacted Randazzo Properties for comment.
On Saturday afternoon a group of activists had assembled at the mural to protest its removal.
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