On July 8th, 20,000 Papuans peacefully rally demanding a referendum on West Papuan independence
Facing an epic struggle they see as similar to those of indigenous minorities in Timor, Aceh, Burma, Laos, South Sudan, South Africa, Iroquois America, and so many other nations, people identifying as Papuans are shifting significant energy into a peaceful information campaign meant to help them achieve solidarity as a people along with either greater autonomy or full independence for the Papuans from Indonesia.
The latest chapter of this media campaign is Unheard Voices of West Papua, a wildly colorful online and print history book for kids aimed at underlining the indigenous point of view at the cost of the colonists and Indonesian government.
The book looks great, sounds great, and the people make good points, but many Indonesians of other ethnic groups are going to be either threatened or scared by the otherwise friendly book.
That’s because at the heart of this peaceful media with cool pictures and fascinating people is the core argument that the Dutch, and then Indonesian government, colonized the region and brutalized the people, and that Indonesia continues to exploit natural resources for the profit of the central government and Western corporations at the cost of the native people.
While much of this is well evidenced — the Indonesian government itself has admitted there’s a serious problem simply by shifting significant military resources to the region, brokering political talks, and prohibiting foreign journalists, if not by acknowledging the many, many allegations that they have tortured or even murdered indigenous activists — the moral problem for the international community comes down to the same issue as in other rebel regions of the world.
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Read Unheard Voices of West Papua: unheardvoices.westpapua.ca