Thursday, April 06, 2006

retroactive backstory

i don't think i've explained anything about papua in the last few humidity-addled rambles i've posted here. apart from bitching and moaning about the heat – one degree south of the equator, one degree below my boiling-over point – and my aviation adventures, i don't think i've told you anything at all. but as anywhere, papua is too multi-dimensional to have described with any justice from sweaty internet cafés. now that i'm on a deadline, what better excuse to put my expert procrastination skills to use? (my espionage report is due before tax day, and the schedule has been so short that i've actually been disciplined just enough to stick to self-imposed mini deadlines. this must be a result of global warming; there's really no other way to explain it.)

on the socio-political side, events such as this marked my four investigative weeks in papua. i first heard about this particular protest as i sipped my super-sweet breakfast cuppa one morning and flipped on the national news, which repeatedly showed one shocking clip of at least two police officers being beaten to death with rocks and chunks of pavement. most of the recent protests that have been flaring up all over papua in the last several years are ostensibly against the foreign-run mining operations in the province – notably the freeport mine mentioned in the link above, which nets profits of US$1 million per day and is indonesia's biggest taxpayer – but one of the issues entwined with that of a foreign company exploiting the native people and local environment (at those parties' expense) is the sentiment underlying it. that is to say, many of the protesters see the mine's operations as only the latest in a long series of colonialists taking advantage of papua's rich resources, oppressing its people, and giving nothing back. though i've spoken to activists and joe schmoes on the street, and done a bit of reading up on the history of the province and this specific situation, i personally do not know enough about it to write anything insightful. but what i can say on a superficial level from what i walked through every day is that papuans and indonesians live in a split society. the words 'apartheid' and 'genocide,' though inaccurate and extreme, don't seem too unlikely for the near future, unless what happens is more like massive civil chaos. kind of a PR nightmare for the indonesian government.

so there's installment #1 of 'current events: papua' for you. and lest you think i am succumbing to local paranoia, here's further reading material on the indonesian government's ban on foreign media in papua; and the government's reaction to australia granting asylum to the 42 papaun refugees who landed on its remote shore in an outrigger canoe they navigated from papua. we're so far removed, on this continent (with other concerns like this war we're waging), to have heard much about this at all, but it's striking to me how little i knew of papua's plight until about two months ago when i was set to fly over there at the last minute.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

welcome home. thanks for the update and the links.

11:03 AM  

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