Lush smells freedom in West PapuaHome » Blog » Lynda Brendish » Lush smells freedom in West Papua
Lush cosmetics supports call for freedom in West Papua throughout stores in Australia and New Zealand.
If you passed the Lush store on Auckland's Queen St Wednesday lunchtime, you might have been confused by the flag-waving, signature-collecting people parading outside. And why Green MP Catherine Delahunty was there. But no one was protesting dodgy goings-on inside Lush headquarters, that's for sure. In fact, quite the opposite.
The international cosmetics company, best known for their sweet-smelling bath bombs, has thrown its weight behind calls for freedom in West Papua. Throughout Australia and New Zealand this week, Lush stores are hoisting the Morning Star flag of West Papua, an act that got Papuan freedom activist Filep Karma 15 years in jail.
So, following in the footsteps of international Lush stores in the UK and the Netherlands, Lush Australasia decided to take a stand as well. It partnered with Indonesia Human Rights Committee (IHRC) here in New Zealand, and will donate the proceeds of all sales (minus GST) of its Smell of Freedom perfume, until Sunday, to the group.
And it sounds like high time awareness was raised in New Zealand. West Papua is not far from our back yard, and yet we know relatively little about what's going on. Part of that is because the Indonesians forbid journalists entry. Just as troubling is the track record of Indonesian human rights abuses in West Papua. Delahunty, who was out at Lush supporting the campaign, called the situation in West Papua the "dirty secret of the Pacific". And after doing even cursory research into the matter, it'd be hard not to agree. According to a human rights report written at Yale Law School, the Indonesians have a lot to answer for:
"Indonesian military and police force have subjected West Papuans to arbitrary and mass detention, torture, and other cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment. Detained Papuans have suffered electric shocks, beatings, pistol whipping, water torture, cigarette burns, and confinement in steel containers for months on end."
It all starts to make sense when you realise West Papua is a region hugely rich in resources. It's the site of the world's largest gold mine, and third largest copper mine, the Grasberg mine. The country is also a rich source of Kwila wood, commonly used in New Zealand outdoor furniture and decking.
Delahunty, who sits on groups of Kiwi and international Parliamentarians calling for freedom in West Papua, says the New Zealand government could take a role as peace mediator, as it did in places like Bougainville and the Solomon Islands.
What you can do
If you don't make it down to Lush before Sunday to support the cause, the IHRC says you can still help in a number of ways:
- Don't buy Kwila. IHRC says it comes from the "last remaining tracts of undisturbed and biodiverse rainforest in the Asia-Pacific region". Even without that, supporting the industry puts money in the hands of those who are hindering West Papuans, not helping.
- Lobby your MP to support justice and human rights for West Papuans.
- Urge the New Zealand government to back the call of West Papuan leaders for peaceful dialogue with Indonesia.
- Urge New Zealand to advocate for open access to West Papua by journalists and humanitarian workers.
- Urge the New Zealand government to end all military ties with Indonesia.