Avatar Opens a Pandora's Box Reminiscent of Papua > by Nick Chesterfield
“The smell was of death and dying. Everywhere was black and my people were crying. Our sacred trees were falling, brutal alien men were driving massive yellow machines through our land and waters, taking our trees, we were being herded out... Soldiers were firing at anything that moved, as helicopters were flying over what was left of our home, sending sheets of fire to burn everything... My mother died, my father died.
“All I have left is a memory of my home, and my sister alongside me today in this limbo... So of course I must go back and fight. I was born as a warrior, even if I die early as one, I am still fighting for my people’s grandchildren. These Garudas will eat every last one of us unless our poison arrows go for the heart of their greed. We must drive those aliens out, and remind them that THIS IS OUR LAND.”
Is this a key scene James Cameron’s much talked about epic Avatar? No, it is a description from a refugee student (let’s call him Melkias for his safety), of the situation that forced his flight from the Pandora of this planet, West Papua. Interviewing him in a PNG border camp in May 2006, Melkias was describing to me what happened when a logging company, backed and run by the Indonesian military, started clearing out local people from the Boven Digul border area.
“They destroyed their Earth, so now they are coming destroy ours, “Melkias said in an eerie allegory to the undercurrent to the Avatar story. Papua was one of the last areas of paradise forest left on our planet, but just like Pandora it is home to natural resources that those who want it will stop at nothing to get.
manukoreri or willawillaburka (and now Ivauta Koama)
About: an independent activist, journo, media and human security/ rights worker and consultant focusing on Melanesian issues, primarily West Papua and the role of the Indonesian military; also developing a major new human rights citizen media digital safety and reporting project; citizen media safety trainer /developer, human rights investigator covering Melanesian Asia-Pacific...