West Papua Freedom
The first of December was the day West Papua got its Independence from the Dutch Colony, only to be occupied 12 months later by the Indonesian Army. The struggle for West Papua’s freedom to protect their people, culture and land, continues to this date. Two years ago, British filmmaker Dominic Brown travelled without the knowledge or authority of the Indonesian authorities in order to film Forgotten Bird of Paradise. The documentary (26.5mins) has received acclaim, providing a rare and moving insight into the forgotten struggle for independence that has gripped West Papua for over 50 years. It includes never before seen footage of OPM rebel fighters at their stronghold deep in the Papuan jungle, as well as interviews with human rights victims of the Indonesian regime.
Yusak Pakage Amnesty International ‘prisoner of conscience’
Most startling of all is an interview conducted with Yusak Pakage, a high-profile West Papuan political prisoners recognised by Amnesty International as a ‘prisoner of conscience’. He is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for peacefully raising the West Papuan flag during a ceremony in 2004. The interview was recorded in secret by Brown during a hospital visit where Pakage was receiving treatment for torture.
The documentary also provides an insight into recent developments on the international arena including the launch of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua. This has seen a number of influential politicians from around the world come together to coordinate international action against the ongoing occupation, and bring about the means whereby the West Papuan people will eventually gain their long-lost right to self-determination.
Frequently breathtaking and thought-provoking, Forgotten Bird of Paradise provides a remarkable insight into a world where ancient traditions and cultures live on into the modern age. Above all it shows the inspiring resilience of a people who have suffered so much under Indonesian occupation, but whose determination for freedom burns stronger now than at any time in history. Finally their cries are starting to be heard.
Produced, directed & filmed by Dominic Brown
6 thoughts on “Film: Forgotten Bird of Paradise”
There are few higher callings than aiding the oppressed………
Oh Alex, my heart aches for West Papua.
Well, I feel your heart ache is a prayer that aids the oppressed…
Thank you Alex.
This video is certainly ‘breathtaking and thought provoking, Joycelin. It’s also heartbreaking – so much suffering and pain. I sincerely hope you’re right when you say that the cries of the West Papuan people are, at last, starting to be heard.
Thank you Millie. Those were the comments of the Dominic Brown. Personally, I have covered a lot of stories, speaking with people I never met, who made calls to the newsroom in the middle of the night. I know, there are more people talking about West Papua’s plight now than ever before – however, whether we are getting closer to their freedom, is a totally different thing.
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