Barack Obama meeting with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia.
Obama’s interest West Papua stems, in part, from personal experiences growing up in Indonesia with his mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, a cultural anthropologist. In his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, he recalls a conversation with his step-father, Lolo Soetoro, who had just returned home after a tour of duty with the Indonesian military in West Papua. Obama asked his step-father: “Have you ever seen a man killed?” Lolo responded affirmatively, recounting the bloody death of “weak” men. West Papuan intellectuals and political activists, kin of the “weak” men killed by Lolo Soetoro, have read Obama’s autobiography with keen interest. Even as many Americans have lost hope in their President, many West Papuans still embrace the message from the 2008 campaign, “Yes We Can.”
|Forkorus Yaboisembut moments before he was arrested.|
Eben Kirksey earned his Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Cruz and is currently a Mellon Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. His first book, “Freedom in EntangledWorlds: West Papua and the Architecture ofGlobal Power”, will be published by Duke University Press on March 30th, 2012.