The global spectre of state violence against political dissent, with paramilitary law enforcement units advancing against citizens they are employed to protect in cities such as Cairo, Bangkok and Kiev is daily news. But in some developing countries, the police are being used to put down indigenous opposition to the alliance of state and corporate power over resource extraction.
For many Pacific Islanders, customary land is the source of life, identity and social security. However, most island states are developing countries, and governments claim land reform is needed to improve infrastructure and economic development. Registration of customary land, the predominant tenure system, with more options for leasing to the state and developers is being promoted as the way forward.
The indigenous struggle for liberation in West Papua on the western half of the island of New Guinea in the south-west Pacific, with the loss of thousands of lives, is far from ending. But, despite political uncertainties, a united coalition of pro-independence leaders has reignited hope of freedom by galvanising the support of a Pacific Islands inter-governmental organisation.