In late September 2016, the Papuan Voices II collection was screened in collaboration with the Faculty of Gender Studies at the University of Malaya. Students, lecturers, and activists were invited to watch the series of advocacy videos on West Papua, which were produced by Papuan activists after being trained by EngageMedia.
The post-screening discussion, led by myself from EngageMedia and moderated by Alicia Izrahuddin from the Faculty of Gender Studies, showed that not much is known about West Papua in Malaysia other than Freeport, Raja Ampat, the independence movement and head-hunting.
One of the audience members mentioned that Malaysian companies also invest in West Papua, and so it’s not only Freeport that’s “colonizing the land”. He added that land issues are the biggest problems there after HIV/AIDS.
Other attendees were very intrigued by how Papuan people look at modernity, and wanted to know more about gender issues in West Papua after watching the films ‘Mutiara Dalam Noken‘ and ‘Mama Mariode‘, expressing that such stories are rarely heard coming from there.
The event brought lesser-discussed but equally critical Papuan issues such as education, healthcare, and land rights to a targeted audience, as opposed to the focus on politics, violence and the independence movement in the mainstream media.