Published: Jul 30, 2007


Gerry van Klinken

Both Australia and Indonesia are probably about to get new leaders. We hope all the candidates for the top jobs - Megawati, John Howard and Kim Beazley - will read this edition of Inside Indonesia. So for that matter should George W Bush (who said we don't aim high?!). Papua has for too long been a remote, 'primitive' place whose fate is arranged in Jakarta, Canberra, New York and Washington. Today it is far less remote. Papua is all over the worldwide web, as Mike Cookson shows us here. Now is the time to start listening to Papuans themselves. That is the real meaning of self-determination, still one of the key beliefs underpinning the United Nations.

This edition does not take a view on Papuan independence as such. It wants to be a forum for ideas. What it does take a view on is the importance of people. No abstract idea of national sovereignty, or of a gross domestic product, can be more important than the right of ordinary children, women and men to live in peace and dignity.

I think this edition brings those Papuan people into closeup. Not surprisingly, we discover they are human beings who dream of a better future, not unlike humans elsewhere. Once we have 'met' people like John Rumbiak, Tom Beanal or Beatrix Koibur we can no longer talk about 'Stone Age rebels', as so many newspapers still do. We will also find it much less easy to say patronising things about what is advisable, permissible or possible for Papua.

This is about as packed an edition of our little magazine as we have ever managed! So many people contributed so gladly it has been an amazing one to edit. There is a growing Papuan solidarity movement out there, that's for sure. Of course, it would take a book to cover everything. Maybe this one can be a first guide to action.

Gerry van Klinken is the editor of Inside Indonesia

Inside Indonesia 67: Jul - Sep 2001