Occupy Wall Street has grown from a single protest action to a nationwide mobilization, tackling a range of social justice issues, from economic globalization to police brutality. The movement has also grown to incorporate other activist groups, including labor unions and movements focused on communities of color. Alex Hing, a veteran community organizer and local union leader, has been active with both Occupy Wall Street and the Asian American community, and takes a long view of the Occupation.
Alex Hing, Executive Board member of the Asia Pacific American Labor Alliance
Earlier this month, thousands took to the streets in West Papua, Indonesia to express outrage at brutal crackdowns on local activists. Their protest were sparked by a recent assault by security forces on a peaceful gathering in support of self-determination, known as the Papuan People’s Congress. In recent weeks, government forces have also attacked protesting workers at a branch of a US-based mining company, Freeport McMoran. The violence exposed the dubious economic ties between Jakarta and US multinationals.
West Papuans, who consider themselves ethnically distinct from the majority population, face intense political oppression, poverty, and the threat of ethnic cleansing. Yet as the unrest continues to escalate, Washington remains silent, even as it pivots toward Asian leaders to expand its influence in the Pacific. For an update on the crisis, we speak with the West Papua Advocacy Team.
Edmund McWilliams, former Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, now an activist with the West Papua Advocacy Team.
Simplistic analyses of Afghanistan describe it as being divided inexorably along tribal and ethnic lines, and variously under the control of individual warlords or the resurgent Taliban. In his book Bazaar Politics, anthropologist Noah Coburn (currently teaching at Skidmore College) examines the social structures in a market town, Istalif, that has maintained remarkable stability despite strong underlying tensions and its proximity to Bagram and Kabul. Here he joins us to argue that this stability arises from a highly democratic form of local politics; and further, that the local structure in this small town offers important lessons for the way international groups should approach the entire country.