A message from Ian Melrose...

Hello and thanks for visiting freewestpapua.com.au,

I help run a successful business selling prescription eyewear and accessories. Three years ago, a decision was made to share the success of the Optical Superstore by supporting and funding social justice causes when my country, through the Australian Government, has not acted fairly .

I was first motivated to assist with various projects in our region after reading a newspaper article in 2004 about a 12 year old East Timorese girl who choked to death on round-worms that could have been treated by tablets costing less than one dollar.

I was horrified when I discovered the Howard Government was taking billions of dollars worth of oil and gas royalties that according to International Law would belong to East Timor - the poorest country in Asia. So I ran a high-profile advertising campaign that helped pressure the Australian Government to act more fairly and East Timor was offered a better deal than they would otherwise have achieved.

Early in 2006, the disturbing situation in West Papua was once again brought to the attention of the Australian public when 43 West Papuans fled to Australia in fear of being killed by the Indonesian military due to their involvement in the Free West Papua movement.

Like the East Timorese, the people of West Papua have suffered horrifically at the hands of the Indonesian military. According to church groups at least 100,000 West Papuans have been killed since the beginning of Indonesia's occupation of West Papua in 1962. Many of the Indonesian military commanders and personnel responsible for war crimes in East Timor have since been given promotions and are now stationed in West Papua.

Torture and other human rights violations perpetrated by the Indonesian military continue today under the leadership of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and are well documented by various international agencies.

The people of West Papua have consistently been denied the right to determine their own future. This must be addressed. Unfortunately, far from being able to freely discuss ways to achieve greater levels of political and financial autonomy, West Papuans can be imprisoned for 15 years for merely raising a flag.

Australia can, and should, play a central role in finding peaceful and meaningful ways to address the challenges faced by our neighbours in West Papua.

Australian Government policies are crucial in overcoming the sickening injustices that occur on our doorstep. So please, take immediate
action and help stand up for West Papua.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Melrose.

(ps - I am not, and have never been, a member of a political party.)