Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes

Angry Papuan leaders demand Jared Diamond apologizes. West Papuan leaders respond to Jared Diamond describing their culture as warlike and lucky that a state government showed up to bring them peace. (Background: West Papua has been violently oppressed by the Indonesian state government for decades.)

Benny Wenda, a Papuan tribal leader, said to Survival, ‘What he (Jared Diamond) has written about my people is misleading (…) he is not writing about what the Indonesian military are doing (…) I saw my people being murdered by Indonesian soldiers and my own Auntie was raped in front of my eyes. Indonesia told the world that this was ’tribal war’ – they tried to pretend that it was us that was violent and not them – this book is doing the same. He should apologize.’

Markus Haluk, a senior member of the Papuan Customary Council, added, ‘The total of Dani victims from the Indonesian atrocities over the 50 year period is far greater than those from tribal war of the Dani people over hundreds of thousands of years.’

This bit at the end really got me. What a contrast between two people’s experience of ‘peace’ and ‘freedom’, and what a contrast in how much they get heard. A white settler published his ideas in a book, and one of the indigenous people he was talking about had to smuggle a message out of prison in order to respond.

Dominikus Surabut, currently jailed for treason for peacefully declaring West Papuan independence, described the relationship of indigenous West Papuans and the Indonesian state as political apartheid. In a statement smuggled out of his jail cell, he said, ‘This is the very nature and character of colonial occupation of indigenous peoples, where they are treated as second class citizens whose oppression is justified by painting them as backwards, archaic, warring tribes – just as suggested by Jared Diamond in his book about tribal people.’ » Blog Archive » My Oral Statement to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel

My Oral Statement to the Enbridge Joint Review Panel, from Hugh Stimson. I like all of this; it is hard to choose a small part to quote.

I would also like to speak about national benefits. Like a lot of Canadians now I have some expe­ri­ence with the pros­perity of oil extrac­tion. My brother who couldn’t find decent work in Ontario recently moved to the Saskatchewan oil patch so he can take up an electrician’s appren­tice­ship. I got myself estab­lished in pricey Vancouver in part using money I made in a Fort McMurray work camp. There are pay­cheques and some real pride to be had there. A pipeline will to some extent make for more pay­checks, and perhaps more pride.

But let’s not kid our­selves: that’s not a real economy they have up there. Real economies are built from many kinds of work, not on one resource. Real economies are com­pat­ible with the future, not built on this assump­tion that we will just never start taking the climate very seri­ously. Real economies are where the parts work together, not one where one part screws up the climate for agri­cul­ture or ruins the view for tourism or makes the ski season a crap shoot or opens up timber stands to beetle invasion when the weather warms.

The economy we’ve been building all this time here in Canada is not one where young men go away to grow up on coke and lone­li­ness and grown men stand at pay phones in modular hallways draining down their phone cards saying “It’s okay honey, daddy will be home in just two more weeks”.