Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hitch-hiking in West Papua

A journey towards understanding some of the everyday effects of Indonesian occupation.

For some time the idea of visiting West Papua had been stuck in our heads. Partly for adventure: this island is the third largest rainforest remaining in the world, but the primary motivation was to understand a little bit more about the conflict here, currently the longest running and most bitter in the territory claimed by Indonesia. Since the early 1960s the Papuans have been fighting back against the military might of the Indonesian state. Their cultural survival is ranged against high economic stakes including natural resources- timber, gas and especially the world's largest copper mine - and also vast expanse of their land which Indonesia uses to relieve the pressure on the more crowded islands of Java and Sulawesi.

There was a time when solidarity with West Papua was quite popular in radical ecological circles in the west - images of indigenous warriors fighting the might of a militarised state with their bows and arrows captivated the imagination of a lot of us at the time. I was inspired by this too, but I was also wary, because real solidarity cannot be built on romantic images alone; the reality of conflict situations is always complex and it doesn't do to ignore the inconvenient bits. In the end we felt it would be a good idea, as by now we could communicate in Indonesian, to take a look at what's going on there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

London Sumatra: the Myth of Sustainable Palm Oil

Surrounded on all sides by swathes of oil palm plantations lies a village of indomitable residents that have for many years waged an ongoing battle to regain the land that was stolen from them during the Suharto dictatorship and ended up in the hands of the plantation company, London Sumatra. The village, Pergulaan in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra is by no means unusual in that regard, cases of land seizure are ubiquitous in Sumatra, affecting 250,000 families in North Sumatra alone1. Along with rainforest destruction, Indonesia's plantation industries are founded on the dispossession of peasant farmers.

Kulon Progo - The Government Forces us to Fight Back

The plan to mine the ironsands along the southern coast of Kulon Progo (more exactly from Pantai Trisik to Pantai Glagah) continues to be resisted by Paguyaban Petani Lahan Pantai (PPLP - Association of Shoreline Farmers) . The demonstrations keep on coming, as do the efforts of the government and investors to make ensure that  Jogja Magasa Iron's plan to mine the ironsands will bring them profit. Why does PPLP continue to resist, scarcely leaving any space for negotiation? The following is KONDE's [local newspaper] interview with Widodo, one of the figureheads of PPLP in the past time.

Anarchy in Indonesia

This interview was published in German in the book Von Jakarta bis Johannesburg - Anarchismus weltweit, Sebastian Kalicha & Gabriel Kuhn (eds.) Unrast Verlag 2010

Can you tell us about the history of anarchism in Indonesia?

MT: As far as I know from my friends' stories and from what I’ve learned, the origin of anarchism in Indonesia came together with the arrival of punk music around 1998. At that time anarchy was synonymous with punk and some people in that community began to delve deeper into anarchic ideology and values. Since that time anarchist discourse began to develop amongst individuals or collectives in the punk / hardcore community, and later to a broader range of groups such as activists, students, workers; essentially reaching a wider public with different backgrounds.