International Academics for West Papua Newsletter - Summer 2020


Hello! Welcome to the summer edition of the newsletter for the International Academics for West Papua (IAWP).

We hope this newsletter finds you, your family and your friends safe and well in the current ongoing covid-19 global pandemic. The pandemic has had a devastating effect all over the world, especially to those already marginalised. These effects have not been spared from the people of Papua who have had to enforce their own lockdowns and face an increased military presence. On top of this, Papuans who are already incarcerated have had early releases, to protect them from covid-19 outbreaks, scrapped. The pandemic is adding to an already tense situation and we hope all those in Papua are able to keep safe.

Due to covid-19, many of the events covered in our previous newsletter were cancelled. However, many of these have been rescheduled online and are covered below with a whole new array of books, journal articles and resources that will be beneficial to all academics involved with Papua.

We hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter and please, share it widely!

In this edition, you can find the following:

  • A recap of past events, news and new resources.
  • An overview of upcoming events.
  • Recent and forthcoming publications (some are open access!)
  • The call to sign the open letter.
  • How to get involved.

For further information about the network, including our detailed background, please see our webpage - http://www.academicsforpapua.org

The network also has a Facebook group that can be joined here.

Recent Events, News and New Resources

14th May 2020, News Item/Resource - Fight for freedom: new research to map violence in the forgotten conflict in West Papua

In a new article for The ConversationCamellia Webb-Gannon, Jaime Swift, Michael Westaway and Nathan Wright have published new research into violence in West Papua. The project aims to bring renewed attention to the crisis in West Papua by highlighting the extent of state-sanctioned violence. It hopes to encourage the kind of international scrutiny that eventually led to intervention in East Timor. The new project maps historic violence in West Papua and has shown that the majority of massacres have taken place in the highlands, many killings were committed while Papuans were peacefully protesting for independence, the government should have had full knowledge of the extent of devastation caused by attacks by security forces and militia groups and the majority of perpetrators have never been held to account by the government. An interactive version of the map can be found here.


18th May 2020, Online Book Launch/Discussion - John Martinkus in conversation with Mark Davis

Over 100 people joined the zoom discussion where Mark Davis questioned John Martinkus on his new book, The Road: Uprising in West Papua. The book focuses on what has changed in Papua in recent years contributing to the uprising - "the Road"). Martinkus argues that the road enables Indonesia to access previously inaccessible areas in Papua which has caused further conflict. A recording of the whole conversation is available here - the password to access it is: 4H*40!?^


19th May 2020, Online Seminar - Settler colonialism in West Papua: The logic of Indonesia's transmigration program

In this zoom seminar Lachlan McNamee discussed his work on transmigration and settler colonialism in West Papua. The talk was based on a chapter in his forthcoming book Unsettled Frontiers: The Rise and Fall of Settler Colonialism and made use of original transmigration documents sourced from libraries all over the world to demonstrate that transmigration into Papua was intentionally targeted along the border with PNG for territorial consolidation and around the Grasberg Mine to support resource extraction. The event concluded with a stimulating discussion and Q&A session but was unfortunately not recorded. A draft copy of Lachlan's chapter is available here.


20th May 2020, News Interview - Raki Ap speaking on The Pan African Daily TV show with Enie Tatah

Raki Ap joined news host Enie Tatah to discuss the history of Papua and the effects of colonialism in the region. The full interview can be found here with Raki speaking from roughly 18 minutes in.


27th May 2020, Online Discussion - A conversation with Dr Belinda Lopez (UTS) and Associate Professor Anna Clark (UTS) about contested national histories and history wars in Australia and Indonesia/West Papua

In this discussion Dr Belinda Lopez and Professor Anna Clark speak with Joel Barnes about national histories and history wars in Australia, Indonesia and West Papua. Dr Lopez discusses this in relation to her ethnographic work with Papuan activists and Professor Clark analyses this in comparison to Australian history and addresses the purpose of history as an idea. A recording of the discussion can be found here.


28th May 2020, Online Discussion -  Why Special Autonomy Has Failed in West Papua

In this online discussion hosted by UNSW's Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) Veronica Koman, Ronny Kareni and Melissa Crouch discussed issues surrounding special autonomy and how it has failed. They also looked at why this matters for Australia and Indonesia. A recording of the discussion can be accessed here.


31st May 2020, Online Discussion - DISKUSI: #BLACKLIVESMATTER DAN PAPUA (Discussion: #BlackLivesMatter and Papua)

In this online discussion, Veronica Koman was joined by Cisco and Mikael Kudiai to discuss Black Lives Matter and the relationship this has to Papua. The discussion can be found here (Indonesian language).


3rd June 2020, New Resource - We Need to Talk About Papua

Kudeta magazine has created a resource called "We Need to Talk About Papua". In a simple format a number of key resources, texts, websites (and much more) have been collated together in one easy to use format. It is likely to be useful for any academic looking to use a number of varied resources. It can be accessed here.

Upcoming Events

5th June 2020 (10.30-12.30 WP time/ 01.30-03.30 UTC), Online - Perempuan Penjaga Tanah Papua Melalui Film Dokumenter (Women Guarding the Land of Papua Through Documentary Films)

This online discussion will see Monaliza Upuya, Pitra Hutomo and Fransiska Manam share their stories and experiences about the voice, role and position of Papuan women. The event is moderated by Nelius Wenda and you can register here. (Indonesian language)


TBC 2020 , Melbourne, Australia - PANEL: West Papua's Struggle for Freedom

This panel was due to take place as part of the Marxism2020 conference but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It would have seen Veronica Koman, Ronny Kareni and Jefry Yikwa discuss West Papua's struggle for freedom. The organisers hope to reorganise the event for later in the year with the same speakers. The latest updates can be found here and once a date is confirmed we will update the network.

Recent and Forthcoming Publications

Martinkus, J (2020). The Road: Uprising in West Papua (Australia: Black Inc.).

[Draft Chapter] McNamee, L (2020). Indonesian Settler Colonialism in West Papua In L. McNamee Unsettled Frontiers: The Rise and Fall of Settler Colonialism, pp.94-124.

[Open Access Draft] Munro, J (2020). Global HIV Interventions and Technocratic Racism in a West Papuan NGO. Medical Anthropology.

Sign the Open Letter

Please consider signing the open letter to the Indonesian Government in support of human rights in West Papua. More information can be found here.

Getting Involved

There are many ways to get involved with IAWP and below we have collated the different ways that you can interact and connect with us.

  • Sign the open letter if you have not already (see above).
  • Let us know of any conferences or presentations that are related to West Papua in some way so we can include it in the next newsletter.
  • Share with us new and forthcoming journal articles or books so we can include them in the next newsletter and add them to the resources section on the website.
  • Share the newsletter, open letter and website throughout your networks.
  • Follow us on Facebook!


Created with images by @BennyWenda (https://twitter.com/BennyWenda), Andy Paine (The Commons Library): https://commonslibrary.org/the-spirit-of-mambesak-west-papuan-freedom-music/, @VeronicaKoman (https://twitter.com/VeronicaKoman)