Animating Freedom: Accompanying Indigenous Struggles for Self-Determination

By Jason MacLeod. James Backhouse Lecture, 2019. 72 pages. $15/paperback; $8/eBook.

Jason MacLeod is an Australian Quaker who has spent nearly 30 years working with—accompanying—Indigenous people working for liberation in West Papua, currently a province of Indonesia. West Papua is not the same place as the country of Papua New Guinea—a fact that many people (even in nearby Australia) don’t know. MacLeod says this is the result of a public information campaign that has rendered West Papua invisible. (Both West Papua and Papua New Guinea are part of the same island, which lies to the north of Australia.)

Right away, MacLeod makes it clear that it is important that he work with Papuan-led organizations in nonviolent campaigns. The goal is to expose and ultimately end corporate support for the occupation of West Papua by Indonesia. Some of those corporations are Australian, and this is where MacLeod finds a role.

His role “needed spiritual roots,” specifically his Quaker roots, as MacLeod says in the lecture from which this booklet comes. It is valuable to know what Friends around the world are doing, and what is happening in their part of the world that moves them to act. The annual James Backhouse Lecture is a good way for Friends outside Australia to hear about witness there and the shape it takes.

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