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Public Meeting: Indigenous Resistance - Chiapas & West Papua, Wed 19th October!

Rage. | 12.10.2005 21:56 | Social Struggles | Zapatista | London | Oxford

Speakers include:

Exiled tribal leader Benny Wenda and author of 'One No, Many Yeses' Paul Kingsnorth from the 'Free West Papua' campaign and activists from the Zapatista solidarity group 'Kiptik', who do direct solidarity work in Chiapas, Southeast Mexico.

Date: Wednesday 19th October

Time: 7.30pm

Venue: Reading International Solidarity Centre, 35-39 London Street, Reading, Berks (directions are available at

This meeting is part of the Reading International Festival, taking place from 14th October - 1st November, which is being organised by Reading International Forum. For more information please see

In 1969, the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was born, following the brutal invasion and occupation of West Papua by Indonesia. Backed by Britain and the USA, this occupation has killed upwards of 300,000 people in West Papua and facilitated ecological destruction on a mass-scale. Throughout this time West Papuans have been fighting for their freedom - freedom from Indonesian occupation, US/UK led corporate plunder, enforced western 'development' and religious missionaries. West Papuans are fighting for their way of life, their culture and for self-determintion. "We are not terrorists! We do not want modern life! We refuse any kinds of development: religious groups, aid agencies, and governmental organisations. Just Leave Us Alone, Please!" come the demands of the OPM.

On January 1st, 1994, as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect, several thousand masked indigenous people, took over seven towns in the state of Chiapas, in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast. Calling themselves 'Zapatistas', after Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, and calling NAFTA "a death sentence" they declared themselves at war with 'Neo-liberalism' and the 'dictatorship of the market'. Their masked, pipe-smoking spokesman Subcommandante Insurgente Marcos captured the worlds attention with his poetic communiques and civil society mobilised in cities around the world in support of the Zapatistas, demanding a ceasefire. This popular pressure ended the war after 12 days, leading to peace talks - and agreements known as the San Andres Accords, as yet unfulfilled by the Mexican government. Since this time the Zapatistas have braved a US backed 'low-intensity war' in order to run their 32 autonomous rebel zones. In recent months they have been in the headlines again, beginning a process of linking up with many other diverse grassroots struggles in a move known as 'The Other Campaign'. Their radical demands for "Freedom, Democracy, Dignity and Justice" and "a world where many worlds fit" found echoes around the world - catalysing much of what became known as the 'anti-globalisation movement'.

At this public meeting in Reading on Wednesday 19th October, speakers from the 'Free West Papua' campaign and the Bristol based Zapatista solidarity group 'Kiptik' will discuss the history to these conflicts, the major part being played by western capitalism, and what we could do in solidarity with indigenous peoples struggling for their dignity.

For more information please see:


Free West Papua campaign:


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