I’ve always wanted to go to Papua, ever since I read an opinion piece in The Guardian by exile Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda two years ago. It’s such a faraway place from where I grew up and the tales that have been told to me is also so far from the reality there. When I finally set my foot to Papua, the land that people call a piece of heaven on Earth, I was mesmerized by its beauty. The layers and layers of undulating hills and valleys covered in mist was like out of this world. But, it’s a sad place too, the people witness and suffers from violence from the military and injustice from the Indonesian government. I’m Indonesian, Javanese, but when I traveled to Papua, I question the insistence of the government for a unified Indonesia, when it takes away the right to self-determination of peoples. How come an imaginary line be so important as to keep people in chains? Going to Papua, I felt like traveling to time and space, to Java in Colonial times, when all the people despised the Dutch Colonial power and yearned for freedom. But then, it all makes sense why they want to keep that imaginary line, to be able to take away what they wouldn’t be able to take if the line disappears.
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