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Reminder: Indigenous Resistance Public Meeting, Reading, Wednesday.

Rage | 17.10.2005 20:47 | Globalisation | Social Struggles | Zapatista



Speakers include:

Exiled tribal leader Benny Wenda and, the author of 'One No, Many Yeses - A Journey to the Heart of the Global Resistance Movement', 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


1) West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. Covered in one of the last great tropical rainforests it is home to many unique species of wildlife including tree kangaroos and beautiful birds of paradise. It is also one of the world’s most resource rich areas containing huge reserves of oil, gas, copper, gold and of course timber. The indigenous population number about 1 million Melanesian Papuans, many of whom still live subsistence or hunter gatherer tribal lifestyles. The diverse tribes of New Guinea speak some 15% of the world’s known languages! After gaining independence from Dutch control in 1961, West Papuans held their first congress and raised their flag - The Morning Star. However, by 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", "Autonomy and a politics from below" 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 can do in solidarity with indigenous peoples struggling for their dignity.

2) Paul Kingsnorth authored the excellent "One No, Many Yeses - A Journey to the Heart of the Global Resistance Movement", published by Free Press and available from He is also a former deputy editor of The Ecologist magazine. He is now involved with the Oxford based Free West Papua campaign.

3) Benny Wenda is a West Papuan tribal leader who was arrested by the Indonesian authorities and imprisoned in dire conditions due to his involvement with the OPM. He later escaped from prison and is now living in exile in Oxford, active with the 'Free West Papua' campaign.

4) Kiptik are a UK based solidarity group who have been working on a series of projects in the autonomous Zapatista communities of Chiapas in Southeast Mexico, since May 2000. The projects include potable water systems, provision of doctors and support for rural clinics, mural painting, media, production, music, construction and sport. They work directly at a local level with the communities, rather than with large, remote institutions, try to promote self-sufficiency by leaving skills and materials in the hands of the people in the communities and make every effort to use 'appropriate technology' solutions i.e. simple and low cost.

5) For more information please see:


Free West Papua campaign:


Or alternatively please contact the organisers of this meeting by email at reading-anti-g8(AT)

- e-mail: reading-anti-g8(AT)
- Homepage: