Forgotten Bird of Paradise
2009 marks the fortieth anniversary of the bitterly contested Act of Free Choice. Since that day over 500,000 Papuans have been killed, and thousands of others have become victims of human rights atrocities committed by the notoriously brutal Indonesian military. Papuan cultural practises have also been outlawed under Indonesian rule, with Papuans running the risk of 15 year jail terms if they raise their national flag or perform traditional music.
Filmed undercover and without the knowledge or authority of the Indonesian authorities, Forgotten Bird of Paradise provides a rare insight into the forgotten struggle for independence that has gripped West Papua for over 45 years. It includes never before seen footage of rebel fighters at their stronghold deep in the Papuan jungle as well as interviews with human rights victims of the Indonesian regime.
Most startling of all is an interview conducted with the Amnesty International recognised ‘prisoner of conscience’ Yusak Pakage. He is currently serving a 10-year jail term for peacefully rasing the West Papuan flag. The interview was recorded in secret during a hospital visit where her was receiving treatment for torture.
The documentary also provides an insight into recent development in the international arena including the launch of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP) (PNG’s Powes Parkop is also a member of IPWP, click here for more info) which has seen a number of politicians from around the world come together to co-ordinate international action against the ongoing occupation and allow the West Papuan people their long lost right of self-determination.
Frequently breathtaking and thought provoking, the footage that makes up Forgotten Bird of Paradise provides a remarkable insight into a forgotten 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 dream for freedom burns stronger now than at any time in history. Finally their cries are starting to be heard.