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Genocide at our doorstep

Benny Wenda is a West Papuan tribal leader; his story of persecution and exile is told in The Road to Home, which screens at the Yamba Cinema this Friday night July 28 at 6.30pm. Image: Contributed

The Free West Papua Campaign’s Facebook page alleges West Papua, just 250 kilometres north of Australia, “is under brutal Indonesian military occupation. Over 500,000 indigenous Melanesian West Papuan people have been killed yet much of the world remains blind”.
The campaign regularly publishes pictures of atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Indonesian military forces.
Meanwhile, the Free Papua Movement, which has been active since 1965, declares its mission on its Australian Facebook page as: “We are the voices of the grass-roots people of West Papua. Our mission is the People’s Mission – Independence from Indonesia.
“We highlight all voices, all Papuans are important in this struggle.”
Lower Clarence woman Emma Capp is doing her bit to highlight what is happening in West Papua: last year she screened Isolated, a documentary that “followed surfers to West Papua where they discover unexplored waves as well as a first hand insight into the atrocities that are happening there to this day”.
This Friday, she is screening The Road to Home, which tells the story of Benny Wenda, a West Papuan tribal leader whose village was bombed by the Indonesian military when he was a child.
Many of his family were killed and, subsequently, he campaigned against the occupation of his country and was arrested for leading a peaceful movement for independence.
He suffered imprisonment, torture and threats to his life before he escaped and sought exile in the UK. English filmmaker, Dominic Brown of Dancing Turtle Films, followed Wenda’s life for two years –the film was released in 2015.
“Because of the media bans within West Papua and Australia the majority of people in this country don’t know anything about the intense suffering of these people just off our shore,” Ms Capp said.
“Proceeds of the film screening will go to the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), [to] directly help their five executives to attend the UN General Assembly and Decolonisation Committee, held in New York in September this year.”
The 50-minute film will be followed by a Q&A with Rex Rumakeik (ULMWP), who is travelling from Canberra for the screening, and Byron Bay man Matthew Jamieson, who has long been involved in the campaign and made a detailed submission in 2007, regarding the “Agreement between Australia and the Republic of Indonesia on the Framework for Security Cooperation”.
Tickets are $12 and the film is suitable for children. There will be shirts, hoodies and information available on the night.
See page 6 for ‘MPs respond (kind of) to West Papua questions’.