Thursday, April 20, 2006


On a completely different note I move into the world of activism....
It is good to meditate and begin to make sense of the self that you are caught up in and the realities that surround you and then it is even better to find ways to connect with others to get movement on things that concern, enrage, worry you.
Over the last few years I was very fortunate to meet a man who is one of the West Papuan leaders who live in Australia and has been active in bringing the plight of the West Papuan people into the public arena. That meeting brought to my attention the situation of West Papua. I had a very vague sense of the history of that part of the world but have since learnt a hell of a lot more.

The photo here is of the skirt of a dancer at a protest outside the Dept of Immigration in Melbourne. This was around the time that 43 West Papuans had just landed on Cape York in a traditional canoe. Since then West Papua has become a lot more visible in the media , especially since 42 of these West Papuan refugees were given Temporary visas. And especially since the Indonesians have been greatly offended at what has happened and have managed to inspire Howard to cut Australia out of the Immigration act so that people fleeing here will no longer be processed here but shipped offshore and then maybe given protection by a third country. It just goes to show that you can not afford to ignore realities and then react suddenly when your game is up. Mind you that seems to be the way our government works. Australia has been very quiet about human rights abuses in West Papua and rather than talking about these issues, we are refusing to look the problem in the eye. This helps no one and particularly not the West Papuans. West Papua is rich in resources and Indonesia is protecting their control over these assets but has shown little interest in the health abd well being of the West Papuan people. West Papua is also a land resource for over populated Indonesia and the policy of transimigrasi ( for more info on this policy you can go to- is being used to transfer large numbers of Indonesian settlers to West Papua. This large transference of populations has a profound and negative impact on the indigenous population.
The group that landed here were very aware that their action would bring these problems into the light and we can only hope that through engagement these problems are dealt with by listening to the concerns and needs of the West Papuan people. These people are our neighbours with a history of helping us during World War 2. I have been to some moving ceremonies in support of the West Papuans in Melbourne's Anglican churches with the presence of old fighters who recognise and support their claims for autonomy.

1 comment:

paddy.g said...

Austin, loved the post. West Papua is a heartbeat away from mass genocide East Timor style. Keep active. Paddy