|Bonnie Etherington reading from her new book The Earth Cries Out at the Women's Bookshop in Ponsonby, |
Auckland, this week. Photo: Del Abcede
Along with the usual literati at events like this, were the human rights activists with “Free West Papua” emblazoned on their chests and the media freedom advocates intent on exposing the constant gags imposed on the West Papuans by the Indonesian military killing machine in defiance of an empty “open door” policy proclaimed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2015.
The “Free West Papua” movement, fuelled by inspired and continuous social media exposes and debate, has been growing exponentially in recent years.
But you wouldn’t know that if you merely relied on the parochial New Zealand media, which doesn’t seem to have woken up to the human rights catastrophe happening on its Pacific doorstep. (Instead, global news services such as Al Jazeera English, or local services such as Asia Pacific Report and Radio NZ International are having to do the job for them).
Speaking at the Women’s Bookshop in deepest Ponsonby – a world away from the mountain jungle near Wamena in West Papua, Nelson-born Etherington gave three readings from her book, which she says is aimed at a more nuanced understanding of West Papua, one of them a chilling rendition of the fate of a woman accused and slain as an alleged “witch”.