Sail 4 Justice recognises and asserts the sovereignty and self-determination of First Nations people. We wish to pay our respects to the First Nations peoples on whose land and seas we travel and sail. We pay respect to the Elders past, present and emerging and to the strength of the Indigenous communities in ongoing struggles for self-determination. 


We are asking you all to join or to support the Flotilla for Justice that will be launched from so-called Melbourne in May and leave Australia from Gimuy/Cairns in June 2019. We will be taking to the seas and our destination is Manus Island.


All refugees on Manus Island and Nauru are political prisoners. Our Government and private corporations are committing gross violations of human rights, so we are sailing to bring the world’s attention to our Government’s torture and abuse of refugees. We are sailing for human rights, Indigenous sovereignty and climate justice. The Freedom Flotilla will be traveling with the Kangaroo skin engraved with an important message from Arabunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott. The engraving, depicting people of all colors gathered around the sacred fire, will be accompanied by ashes from the tent embassy and water from Uncle Kevin’s traditional country surrounding Lake Eyre. These gifts are to be presented by First Nations and West Papuan Flotilla participants upon our arrival to Manus. The ceremony will include the gifting to the men on Manus of Original Nation passports sent by Uncle Kevin as well as a fire, dance and song performed as an act of resistance to overcome the walls of racism and the politics of greed that keep us divided.

On the journey we will highlight issues faced by original nations in the areas that we will visit, including Indonesian occupation of West Papua and the ongoing genocide of the West Papuan peoples. Australia’s border policing and refugee policies are premised on the notion of Australia’s jurisdiction over this land. However, this country was occupied illegally, under the legal fiction of terra nullius – empty land. To this day, Australia has no treaty with the original sovereigns of this land. As uncle Robbie Thorpe says: “Indigenous people never ceded sovereignty over Australia. The Australian government has no legitimate right to grant or refuse entry to this country.”

In 2013 members aboard the Sail 4 Justice freedom flotilla to West Papua were issued with Original Nations passports stamped by West Papuan political leaders. The West Papua freedom flotilla was an unprecedented event of creative resistance to the Indonesian occupation of West Papua. The initiative of Indigenous Elders of Australia and West Papua built global solidarity and highlighted the abuses of human rights and land rights carried out under the occupations of their countries. Read more here.

Colonisation is historical and ongoing. For centuries it has imposed artificial borders that have carved up Indigenous nations and their lands, resulting in the dispossession of Indigenous peoples from their land, and in regional conflicts. Globally, the ongoing impacts of colonisation and imperialism create conditions such as war, global wealth disparity and environmental changes that force people to flee their lands. There are currently millions of environmental refugees. It is projected that climate change will create the world’s biggest refugee crisis in the next decade.


Our aims are:


1. We sail to draw attention to the plight of refugees in offshore detention sanctioned by the Australian government.

2. We sail to let the people on Manus know that they are not forgotten.

3. We want to send a clear message to the Australian government that their cruelty will not be tolerated.

4. We want to pay our respects to the traditional owners of Manus Island caught in the crossfire of Australian politics, as well as to the West Papuan refugees that were the first asylum seekers to be banished to Manus in the 1980’s by the Australian government.

5. We aim to promote care for the Ocean. Along our journey we have an opportunity to inform people via social media and personally about the conditions of the Ocean, fish life, plastic pollution, the Great Barrier Reef, climate change and other maritime issues. We stand for climate justice as we pass through areas affected by environmental issues in the Pacific.

6. We want to move in solidarity with the traditional custodians of the lands and the seas that we are crossing.

We demand:


An end to all offshore processing

An end to all mandatory and indefinite detention #closethecamps

Freedom for aĺl asylum seekers and the right to seek asylum, including accepting the NZ offer unconditionally. #getthemfree

Compensation to all survivors of Australia’s border regime for the trauma caused

Decolonisation and respect for Indigenous sovereignty and the self-determination of all Australian and Pacific nations first peoples


We didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us.