By Sri Krishnamurthi, contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch
AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Miss Universe NZ 2019 beauty queen Diamond Langi is being trolled by thousands of Indonesians on social media for speaking up about discrimination against West Papuans.
“The post I had made was #FreeWestPapua with a video showcasing the discrimination West Papuans have had to endure for years,” she declared on Coconet TV’s Facebook and Instagram pages two days ago.
On her “Women of the Islands – Diamond Langi” webpage on the Coconet TV website, the Auckland-born Tongan beauty queen is quoted as saying:
“I shared it because I wanted to bring awareness with what was happening with West Papuans, especially now with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I had kindly asked Miss Indonesia (Frederika Alexis Cull), who I had met last year in America while competing at Miss Universe, to speak to the president of her country [Joko Widodo] to free the seven activists who were found guilty of treason for protesting against racism.
She says that from that one post she has been hounded by Indonesian trolls who still exist on her Facebook page.
While there was support for her stance, some of the abuse from some Indonesians bordered on plain hatred, whereas others claimed the Melanesian region of West Papua belonged to Indonesia [it was annexed by Jakarta in in 1969 in a disputed colonisation process that has resulted in armed struggle and peaceful resistance ever since – Pacific Media Watch].
‘My Instagram was flooded’
“From that one post, my Instagram was flooded with abusive comments (at least 10,000 comments in a day) and they also started abusing my family, close friends, and even organisations that I work with,” she says on her Coconet TV webpage.
Some of Diamond Langi’s #FreeWestPapua solidarity comments. FB screenshot/PMC
“I was like, wow if this is happening to me just from making a post, imagine what is happening to the people of West Papua!
“I’ve had to deactivate some of my social media for a little bit but don’t worry I’ll be back,” she says.
But she also had support for her stance.
“Very concerning that our beautiful Pacific sister, Diamond Langi’s public Facebook page is under attack by a few propaganda-fuelled keyboard warriors from Indonesia, because she’s chosen to use her emerging platform and political freedom to stand in solidarity with our indigenous whanau in West Papua,” @Oceania Interrupted said on Facebook.
“Black Lives Matter all over the world, even in the Pacific – and bullying someone for standing in solidarity with indigenous people in our Pacific context, who continue to be brutally oppressed, exploited, silenced and killed in their own land is sickening!
“If you haven’t already, please go on her page, show some love for what she is standing in solidarity for; And if you know a thing or two about THE REAL WEST PAPUA [sic] situation, please school the ignorant bullies on her page and in our world,” the cultural activist group says.
Earlier this year, Langi acted in a Polish-American feature film titled, Sosefina. The film is written by Manu Tanielu and Namualii Tofa and directed by Hinano Tanielu.
The theme of Sosefina has been to tell the story of a marginalised and overlooked Polynesian community. The movie was released in the United States on 31 January 2020.