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.’