New film breaks Indonesian media ban on images of West Papuan rebel camps

A new film shows rarely-seen footage of separatist rebels in Indonesian-ruled Papua province, who have been fighting a low-level insurgency for more than 40 years.


The military wing of the Free Papua Movement, or OPM, has control over some remote parts of Papua.


The international media and many NGOs are banned from Papua, but that did not stop young British film-maker Dominic Brown from visiting without the knowledge or authority of the Indonesian authorities and capturing rare video images of some OPM military camps.


“Forgotten Bird of Paradise” provides a rare and moving insight into the West Papuan people’s long struggle for freedom from an illegal and murderous occupation by Indonesia.  


Damian Rafferty, editor and publisher of Fly | Global Music Culture, writes:Our reaction to West Papua tells us a lot about ourselves. Do we want to live in a world of diverse people living with respect for each other or one in which neighbourhood bullies like Indonesia can kill and degrade secure in the knowledge that handing out mineral licenses to international companies will buy the compliance of the international community? 


“What is at stake is the dignity and possibly the very survival of the culturally, ethnically and linguistically distinct West Papuans. On top of that, there is a clash of cultural values which pits the Papuans’ symbiotic relationship with some of the most precious habitat in the world against the materialistic values of the occupying power.


“Dominic Brown spent two months filming undercover at significant risk to himself and the people he was filming in order to get the story out. The film does the job extremely well. As ever the devil is getting people to see it but it was shown at the Raindance Festival on 6 October.”