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”.

The Distress of the Privileged

The Distress of the Privileged. Advocates a “firm yet compassionate” approach to dealing with backlash against anti-oppression work. I mostly aim for something like this, but I have to respect a diversity of tactics on this one. Talking about oppressed people having compassion for their oppressors can get into sketchy territory. I liked this post for staying clear that respecting everyone’s different needs doesn’t mean pretending everyone’s needs have the same scale and urgency. (via Rob Rao!)

But even as we accept the reality of George’s privileged-white-male distress, we need to hold on to the understanding that the less privileged citizens of Pleasantville are distressed in an entirely different way. (Margaret Atwood is supposed to have summed up the gender power-differential like this: “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”)

George deserves compassion, but his until-recently-ideal housewife Betty Parker (and the other characters assigned subservient roles) deserves justice.

Game to destroy CCTV cameras: vandalism or valid protest?

Game to destroy CCTV cameras: vandalism or valid protest?, at The Guardian.

The rules of Camover are simple: mobilise a crew and think of a name that starts with “command”, “brigade” or “cell”, followed by the moniker of a historical figure (Van der Lubbe, a Dutch bricklayer convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in 1933, is one name being used). Then destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can. Concealing your identity, while not essential, is recommended. Finally, video your trail of destruction and post it on the game’s website – although even keeping track of the homepage can be a challenge in itself, as it is continually being shut down.

Power and the Internet

Power and the Internet, from Bruce Schneier.

It’s not all one-sided. The masses can occasionally organize around a specific issue — SOPA/PIPA, the Arab Spring, and so on — and can block some actions by the powerful. But it doesn’t last. The unorganized go back to being unorganized, and powerful interests take back the reins.
Debates over the future of the Internet are morally and politically complex. How do we balance personal privacy against what law enforcement needs to prevent copyright violations? Or child pornography? Is it acceptable to be judged by invisible computer algorithms when being served search results? When being served news articles? When being selected for additional scrutiny by airport security? Do we have a right to correct data about us? To delete it? Do we want computer systems that forget things after some number of years? These are complicated issues that require meaningful debate, international cooperation, and iterative solutions. Does anyone believe we’re up to the task?
We’re not, and that’s the worry. Because if we’re not trying to understand how to shape the Internet so that its good effects outweigh the bad, powerful interests will do all the shaping. The Internet’s design isn’t fixed by natural laws. Its history is a fortuitous accident: an initial lack of commercial interests, governmental benign neglect, military requirements for survivability and resilience, and the natural inclination of computer engineers to build open systems that work simply and easily. This mix of forces that created yesterday’s Internet will not be trusted to create tomorrow’s. Battles over the future of the Internet are going on right now: in legislatures around the world, in international organizations like the International Telecommunications Union and the World Trade Organization, and in Internet standards bodies. The Internet is what we make it, and is constantly being recreated by organizations, companies, and countries with specific interests and agendas. Either we fight for a seat at the table, or the future of the Internet becomes something that is done to us.

An open letter to peaceful protesters

An open letter to peaceful protesters, at Vancouver Media Co-op. via Lisa B

Another distinction that is important to make between peace movements of the past and protest movements of today is the level of organization. When people think of the Civil Rights Movement, the first thing to come to mind should not be “peaceful.” It should be “organized.” The Civil Rights Movement was highly organized through pre-existing networks of church and school groups. Civil Rights organizers led frequent non-violent civil disobedience trainings all over the country. They organized intensively in communities for years to get to the point of wide scale protests and actions. An example is the Rosa Parks and the bus incident: it is often thought that Rosa Parks sparked a movement by her refusal to move to the back of the bus. In reality, Rosa Parks was trained and groomed to take on that role, as was the larger movement prepared to step into action behind her. This was not a spontaneous event gone ‘viral.’ It was well planned and coordinated. As was the Civil Rights Movement overall: it was not based on public call outs to who ever could show up. To go to a civil rights demonstration participants were instructed and trained at workshops, and they literally signed a contract to abide by specific rules of conduct.