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.