Well that depends on who you believe.
The New Order Indonesian government
The Papuans are primitive, uncivilized and worst of all don’t have a religion. Former strongman Suharto was so embarrassed by them that he banned pictures of Papuans from being shown on TV and even encouraged missionaries to come in and convert them. Out of the forest was the mantra. But it was never really known where they were supposed to live or what they were supposed to do. And as for the missionaries, most of them were spooky Christian fundamentalists. Just what did Suharto think he was up to? Trying to create a mini BibleBelt in the Papuan rainforests? Bizarre.
The Indonesian government today
Although the Papuans can be shown on TV now, they still need to be educated and given a religion. As for the Christian fundamentalists, they are not so cool anymore. And neither are foreign journalists. Keep them out at all costs. And to replace them? Well, ...
The Australian government
The Papuans pose a great threat to Australia. Nightmares are of endless boatloads of Papuans arriving in Aus seeking refuge away from the ongoing military operations in Papua. So do a deal with Indonesia to keep them out at all costs and forget about what the whinging greens are saying about rainforest destruction.
Indonesian and foreign logging/mining companies (especially Chinese logging companies and a rather large metal miner)
The Papuans? Who the hell are they? You mean people actually live in this rainforest?
Australian green groups
The Papuans are a dignified and peaceful people who live at harmony with nature in the magnificent Papuan rainforests. They deserve our admiration.
The Australian media
The Papuans are an intriguing bunch of superstitious cannibals who like nothing better for their lunch than a nice slice of tender human flesh. They deserve our admiration.
No wonder then that the news coming out of Papua is often bizarre.
Like the story some time ago of an Aussie TV reporter who fails to "save" an orphaned child from "cannibals" after being deported by the Indonesian authorities.
Read the full story here.Wacky as it comes.