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Film: Displacement In The Highlands Of West Papua

Forgotten in the Mountains: Displacement in the Highlands of Papua

* A new on-line film by Simon James, University of Oxford

* Introduction by Professor Peter King, University of Sydney

* Filmed in West Papua, August 2007



Papuan fears for their future have recently become focused on the issue of migration from the rest of Indonesia into their homeland.

Following the failure of special autonomy since 2001 to deliver health, education and infrastructure benefits to Papuan villagers, or even a small measure of indigenous autonomy in key security and political matters, Papuans have come to feel that divide and rule sums up Jakarta's approach across the board.

Jakarta has been busily creating unwanted new regencies and provinces in Papua as well as pouring booming mineral revenues into the region. But this has merely succeeded in creating a few new elite Papuan beneficiaries of Indonesia's endemic corruption and setting Papuans against Papuans for control of this corruption.

More seriously it has been the pretext and occasion for bringing even more potential settlers--both bureaucrats and soldiers--into Papua as new military commands as well as bureaucracies proliferate.

The new demographic balance in Papua pits a large minority of settlers--both "old", officially sponsored transmigrasi ones and ongoing "spontaneous" ones (mostly traders and small bisnis people from eastern Indonesia)--against an almost dwindling Papuan one, beset by discriminatory birth control policies, an unchecked HIV-AIDS pandemic and 45 years of repression and displacement.

Recent research Dr Jim Elmslie, West Papua Project, University of Sydney, indicates that 'by 2011 out of a total population of 3.7 million, Papuans would be a minority of 47.5% at 1.7 million and non-Papuans a majority at 1.98 million, or 53.5%.'

Professor Peter King
West Papua Project
University of Sydney


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