Jul - Sep 2001

Papua on the Net

Not as remote as you might think...

Mike Cookson


English language resources online for Papua have developed in curious and constrained ways since Inside Indonesia's first report 'Irian Jaya on the Net' in Oct-Dec 1999 (see edition #60 at http://www.insideindonesia.org/). The proliferation of print media in Papua and the growing use of email, newsgroups and the world wide web within Papua has seen the creation of several useful websites in Papua, almost all in Indonesian and all accessible through an excellent Jayapura (Port Numbay) based internet portal (http://www.infopapua.com/). Almost all the other websites listed here are located in North America, Europe, Australia or New Zealand.

Newsgroups are one of the least expensive and most efficient ways to source information about Papua from the internet. Kabar-Irian maintains several moderated newsgroups available in English and Indonesian as daily postings or in a digest format (see http://www.kabar-irian.com/ for details). The two most popular unmoderated (unedited) news or 'chat' groups (both with around 200 subscribers) are the West Papua News list (formerly reg.westpapua, now at www.topica.com/lists/WestPapua) and Kabar-L (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/irianjaya). It is easy to subscribe or unsubscribe to these newsgroups and they don't forward your email to advertisers for spamming (junk mail). If you want more than the daily news, the following is a selection of the best Papua-related websites across the political spectrum.

Art, culture and tourism. Asmat art is the most widely known art form of Papua. The Crosier Missionaries have sponsored it for decades (www.asmat.org/default.asp) and others have collected it for as long (www.asmat.de/asmat-eng/index.htm). See more Asmat art at http://www.asmatart.net/, Sentani barkcloth at www.artasiapacific.com/articles/maro/fn.html and a large (if at times unspecific) collection of Papua images at http://www.dinnissen.org/. Search engines will turn up more, including tourist sites like: http://www.baliem.com/, www.balimart.com/irian (very clear), www.irianjaya.de, www.papua-adventures.com/index.html, www.mountainmadness.com/gallery/carstenz/carstenz08.htm and travelogues like Where is Evan (www.whereisevan.com/indonesia00-3.html). The Biak Tourism Office is well worth a visit (http://www.infobiaknumfor.com/) and you can combine an interest in culture, tourism and Christian missions at Eduventure (http://www.eduventure.net/).

Mega projects. Reflecting the importance of its public profile and its massive financial resources, Freeport Indonesia offers one of the most comprehensive Papua-related sites on the web (http://www.fcx.com/). An extensive Freeport bibliography (to 1998) is at http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/Pages/Textonline/Biblio_ij.html. Use local search engines for information on BP Amoco's huge Tangguh development (www.bp.com/index.asp) or Inco's exploration program (http://www.inco.com/), or check some pages about the pending Mamberamo project (www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Island/4175 and http://home.snafu.de/watchin/Mamberamo.htm). Project Underground (http://www.moles.org/), the Real History Archive (www.realhistoryarchives.com/collections/hidden/freeport.htm) and The Mineral Policy Institute (http://www.mpi.org.au/) have news and critical commentary about some of these developments.

Concerned for the welfare, environment and human rights of Papuan communities? Down to Earth (www.gn.apc.org/dte), Tapol (www.gn.apc.org/tapol) and Inside Indonesia (you're reading it!) include Papua in their online newsletters, while Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/), Survival International (http://www.survival.org.uk/), the Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights (www.rfkmemorial.org/center/pro_act.htm) and the International Crisis Group (http://www.intl-crisis-group.org/) have detailed reports available on Papua. The Kemala network (www.bsp-kemala.or.id) has useful information about NGOs already working on these issues in Papua, while the West Papua Project aims to build peace initiatives there (www.arts.usyd.edu.au/arts/departs/cpacs/wppmain.html).

Papua solidarity groups typically rely on voluntary support to promote the cause of Papuan self-determination and are often unfettered by institutional affiliations. One of the oldest, the Australia West Papua Association offers the West Papua Information Kit online (www.cs.utexas.edu/users/cline/papua/core.htm, while Bob Boyer's Papua page on this server has disappeared). Others include the West Papua Action Group (http://www.westpapuaaction.buz.org/), the Oxford Papuan Rights Campaign (http://www.westpapua.org/), the Cambridge Peace Initiative (West Papua subgroup at www.campeace.org/westpapua.html), International Action for West Papua (http://www.koteka.net/), Friends of People Close to Nature (http://www.fpcn-global.org/ with amazing photos) and www.angelfire.com/journal/issues/irian.html.

A number of websites represent the West Papuan independence movement, reflecting ambiguities in the movement's leadership and the strong sense of identity the movement evokes among Papuan exiles and independence activists. Prominent sites include the West Papua Nuigini/ Irian Jaya homepage (www.converge.org.nz/wpapua), an 'informal' Indonesian OPM website (www.geocities.com/opm-irja), the Liberation Army of West Papua's Free Papua Movement (www.geocities.com/wp_tpnopm) and the Diary of the OPM (http://www.westpapua.org.uk/ or http://www.westpapua.net/) and www.eco-action.org/opm.

Researchers can assist with some of the intellectual resources necessary for a peaceful, just and secure future in Papua. The internet offers new possibilities for sharing and even repatriating existing research to Papua. Since 1994 Irja.org Inc. has provided a valuable information resource on Papua (http://www.irja.org/). Other useful sites include: http://users.bart.nl/~edcolijn/irian.html, www.sil.org/ethnologue/families/West_Papuan.html, www.bps.go.id (go to the regional offices - Irian Jaya page) and AusAID's training module (http://globaled.ausaid.gov.au/secondary/casestud/indonesia/3/jayawijaya.html). Learn about Dutch research projects in Papua at http://iias.leidenuniv.nl/host/isir/gen and from back issues of Oceania Newsletter (www.kun.nl/cps/index.html#index). PNG research (http://rspas.anu.edu.au/lmp) suggests important future collaborations for researchers on Papua. Finally, Kirksey's homepage (www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/~wolf0983) offers the first free Papua-specific thesis online, while abstracts for other theses on Irian Jaya/ Papua/ West Papua (use all of these whenever you want a complete search) by North American researchers can be viewed or purchased at http://www.umi.com/.

A popular Papuan peace building initiative can be found at www.wpu-fc.faithweb.com/main.html.

Mike Cookson (michael.cookson@anu.edu.au) is researching for a PhD at the Australian National University, Canberra.