There are two good reasons to read John Martinkus’ most recent book, The Road: Uprising in West Papua.

First reason; as an act of defiant resistance to the censorship on the truth of the 50 years of Indonesia’s brutal occupation of West Papua endorsed by western governments mainly Australia, USA, the UN. Through his own experiences and those of his colleagues such as the death of Mark Worth, Martinkus reveals, the violent and lethal intimidation against journalists that enforces the censorship and hence the impunity for the Indonesian war crimes against generations of West Papuan people.

Our act of resistance moreover connects us to the intrepid West Papuans who have upheld, despite the the media blackout and international betrayals, their rightful struggle for independence against Indonesia’s relentless terror, cruelty and slaughter detailed by Martinkus.

And so, we, thus morally empowered with the truth, like Martinkus “cannot walk away from the human rights workers, the local activists, the rebels who sacrificed their lives, the unarmed students and ordinary people who faced jail, beatings and bullets simply for marching in the street or attending a funeral or raising a flag.”

Second reason; in this age of an irrelevant and cowering media that spews government propaganda and fake news, we get to encounter a  a journalist and war correspondent, with capital ‘I’  Integrity.

Martinkus is and always has been a maverick, a man unto himself and unto the truth; his magnificent raison d’être is his revealing to the world the injustices imposed on truly courageous indigenous men, women and children in East Timor, Acheh, West Papua, Iraq, Afghanistan Sri Lanka, Burma who stood and stand mainly alone against the imminent annihilation of their lives, land and culture.

Former Australian foreign minister and Indonesian apologist, Gareth Evans’s Indonesian mate Ali Alatas referred to East Timor as ‘a pebble in Indonesia’s shoe’. As an Australian, Martinkus can claim kudos for being an irritant in the shoe of America’s useful idiot – the Australian government. In 2004, when Martinkus was kidnapped in Iraq, he was contemptibly attacked by the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer;

“I think Foreign Minister Downer is in danger of once again exhibiting his incompetence as Foreign Minister of Australia. Mr Downer apparently has said that this journalist, John Martinkus, had ignored official advice and had travelled to a dangerous part of the city, whereas what we have now is Mr Martinkus the journalist saying that in fact he was outside the only hotel in Baghdad occupied by journalists, and that it was directly across the road from the Australian embassy.”  Kevin Rudd

This is the same Alexander Downer who authorised the illegal bugging of Timor Leste’s cabinet room during the negotiations on the gas and oil resources in the Timor Gap.

Paradoxically, criticism of Martinkus by base Australian and Indonesian politicians enhances his credibility and journalistic soundness.

Other books by John Martinkus: A Dirty Little War ( East Timor) Travels in American Iraq, Indonesia’s Secret War in Aceh.

Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters and editor of a volume of Palestinian poetry, I remember my name.  She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was convenor of  Australia East Timor Association and coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001.


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