‘It’s our identity’, declare Papua’s defiant mamas over Morning Star

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Traditional Papuan bracelets
Traditional Papuan bracelets, headbands and a noken - woven string bag, many with the blue, white and red of the banned Morning Star flag colour of independence. Image: Tabloid Jubi

By Yance Wenda in Jayapura

A Papuan woman politician has warned Indonesian security forces against restricting women from selling noken — traditional string bags — and other accessories displaying the banned Morning Star flag design at the Papuan National Games (PON XX) venue in Jayapura.

Orpa Nari, a Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) member of the Women Workgroup, said the police should not be afraid of “a pattern”.

“It’s just a pattern,” she said. “None of these mamas [Papuan women] weave the pattern as a way to go against the state.

“If anything, it’s our identity as Papuans,” Nari told the Papuan newspaper Tabloid Jubi.

Previously, the security forces reportedly forbade Papuan women from selling any Morning Star-patterned accessories during the Games as they were considered a resistance symbol against the Indonesian state.

Nari said that Papuan women had been making noken with various patterns — including the Morning Star — for a long time, even before the National Games.

“It has nothing to do with the Games event. It’s common to find accessories with the Morning Star design made by Papuan women.

“It’s simply a part of their identity that cannot be forgotten and let go,” she said.

Supported their families
Nari added that these women had supported their families through knitting and making accessories.

“It’s their livelihood. We Papuans know it by heart,” she said.

MRP chair Timotius Murib said he had received information that residents and supporters wearing clothes and accessories with the Morning Star pattern were not allowed to enter the National Games venue

“Some people who wore bracelets or clothes with the Morning Star pattern were forbidden from watching the Games.

“These accessories are common and not just worn by native Papuans,” said Murib.

Murib hoped that the security forces would not overreact to the phenomenon.

“Don’t overdo it, it’s just an accessory. Let’s create a good atmosphere during the PON XX and make it a successful event,” he said.

The two-week-long Games end on Friday.

Yance Wenda is a Tabloid Jubi reporter. Republished with permission.

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