Video: ‘Run It Straight (for West Papua)’

This 14-minute video is an excellent primer on the cry for justice for West Papua, currently an Indonesian-held colony in the South Pacific.

I had the honor of meeting with church leaders from West Papua in 2015. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote from my interview with Pastor Matheus Adadikam, general secretary of the Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua, representing 600,000 people:

“Justice, peace, and care of all of the Lord’s creation is the main mission of our church,” says Matheus, “but our experience has been that change happens fast, and external influences are changing who we are as a people.” His main mission now is traveling the world asking for help.

“The police and army have a personal economic interest in the mining companies,” Matheus says. “As a pastor, I can say that the government tries to blame local people for the violence, but it is not true.” The brutality of the Indonesian military in response to protest or self-determination can be seen in Joshua Oppenheimer’s award-winning companion documentaries The Look of Silence and The Act of Killing and in a film about East Timor, A Guerra da Beatriz.

“In 2006, Indonesia declared us a ‘separatist’ church because we support the right of self-determination,” Matheus says. “If we are not independent politically, then slowly but surely we will lose our Papuan life. … Indonesia makes agreements with corporations to take our trees, our water, our resources, and they don’t care at all about the people. They say, ‘We don’t need the Papuans, we just want their land.’

“As a pastor I have seen too many people killed,” Matheus continues. “When I was invited to speak at the World Council of Churches, while I was gone my family was terrorized … my wife and my kids … this is our experience.”–Rose Marie Berger (read the rest here.)

Learn more about the Free West Papua Movement, the Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Mining Company, and West Papuan Christians fighting for justice.

Oscar Rodriquez on the ‘NAFTA of the Pacific’

catsOscar Rodríguez is coordinator for Mexico, Central America, and Dominican Republic in Public Services International. PSI is a global trade union federation representing 20 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 150 countries. PSI champions human rights, advocates for social justice and promotes universal access to quality public services.

I recently wrote a piece for Sojourners on West Papua (November 2015), which is located on the front-lines of the global trade war between China and the U.S. West Papuans as well as unions and human rights activists around the world are struggling every day to bring human rights and transparency to the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that the Obama administration is pushing through.

As my mother says, “It’s the NAFTA of the Pacific and we know how NAFTA turned out.” Not good.

When Pope Francis talks about “land, lodging, and labor” for all, the details are worked out in these kind of trade agreements. In other words, trade agreements are moral documents. Below is an excerpt from Rodríguez recent overview of international trade agreements from the perspective of the workers:

Over 20 years have passed since the signing of two major free trade agreements in the Americas (NAFTA and CAFTA-DR), without signees like Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic being able to tangibly witness positive advantages as a result of them. On the contrary, the negative effects brought by these agreements have exposed an increasingly unequal trade relationship due to existing inequalities established by the rules of the international free-trade game.

In addition to the already fragile condition of the economies of these countries, the impacts of a new international economic context are starting to be felt in the region. This not only affects exports, stalls economic growth, and depletes social investment; it also clears the way for new free trade agreements that weaken the sovereignty of these countries and removes labor rights and social protections for its citizens.

There are two mega agreements that are being negotiated that fit into this scenario in our region: the TPP (Transpacific Partnership Agreement) and the TISA (Trade in Services Agreement). Both of these agreements are yet another tool to enhance the expansion of a free trade model that is notoriously voracious and perverse, and both are aimed at subduing countries by undermining their sovereignty and threatening their natural resources. — Oscar Rodríguez L. (Read the whole article here.)