PBI partner ELSAM produces ‘Papuan Lives Matter’ documentary on resource extraction, racism and repression

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On November 15, Nalar TV and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) launched the documentary ‘Papuan Lives Matter’.

The 24-minute film provides background context and then documents the repression of the Papua-wide protests in August-September 2019 against resource extraction and the racial discrimination of Indigenous Papuans.

Reuters has reported: “Accusations of discrimination have endured for decades in the resource rich and remote provinces of Papua and West Papua.”

And The Guardian has noted: “At the far east of Indonesia, West Papua remains physically and ideologically separate from the rest of the country. Indigenous Papuans make up about half of the population. Locals claim racism is rife among the police and the military, and there have been allegations of human rights abuses and exploitation against the local population. In August 2019, protests erupted in the region over alleged police abuse against ethnic Papuan students. It was the biggest protest since 1998.”

The ‘Papuan Lives Matter’ documentary includes interviews with Wahyu Wagiman, the director of ELSAM, as well as Assa Asso, a Papuan filmmaker who was beaten and imprisoned for documenting the protests last year.

PBI-Switzerland has noted that Assa Asso has participated in the Basic Course for Human Rights Defenders, part of PBI’s collaboration with ELSAM to conduct extended trainings for human rights defenders.

The current PBI collaboration with ELSAM in Indonesia, primarily focused on education and capacity building, began in 2014. From 1999 to 2011, PBI provided protective accompaniment to human rights defenders in Papua, Aceh, Flores, West Timor and Jakarta.

The full documentary – with English subtitles – is available on YouTube.

Photo: Assa Asso in a still from ‘Papuan Lives Matter’.

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