Sep 10, 2014

These Pro Surfers Went Looking for Untouched Waves in West Papua and Found Genocide Instead

By Ben Roffee / ryot.org
These Pro Surfers Went Looking for Untouched Waves in West Papua and Found Genocide Instead

It all started with a simple surf trip, just a few world class big wave surfers trying to find an unclaimed break in a world where they’ve all but vanished.

They are modern day explorers — feral surfers as they’re known — and they step off the well-trodden path to seek out surfing at its purest.

But Travis Potter, Jenny Useldinger, Andrew Mooney, Josh Fuller, and Jimmy Rotherham headed to West Papua looking for massive, unsullied waves, they discovered an alarming truth that would radically upend their priorities.

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Their adventure unearthed everything from embattled indigenous tribes to disease, cannibalism, genocide, and exploitative mining operations. It was a story so remarkable and so far removed from the public’s eye that they felt they had to share it with the world.

And just like that “Isolated” was born, a riveting documentary about this group of surfers too brave to let this be swept under the rug. You can catch a glimpse of the Justin Le Pera directed film in the preview below:

You’ll have to watch the film to see for yourself if they found the elusive waves they originally set out for, but these photos give you an idea of the unlikely friends and cultural experiences they found along the way.

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Most of us know little of West Papua, which is part of the problem. It’s an island territory under Indonesia’s domain that has faced widespread repression under the foreign occupying forces in the native people’s quiet, sustained march to independence.

Dubbed the Free Papua Movement, these people have been fighting for independence ever since 1969 when Indonesia swooped in after Dutch colonialists made their exit.

The resource-rich province is mostly populated by indigenous people, between 150,000 and 400,000 of whom have died in a lasting crusade of oppression that’s largely eluded the gaze of the international community.

It’s precisely that oversight that’s prompting Ryan Phillippe and others to let you know what’s going down and what you can do to become a global ambassador for peace:

Seriously, the film is top notch and the coinciding campaign is something you really ought to check out. You can catch its television premiere on Pivot TV or check out their website to purchase a copy online.

It’s one of the most important documentaries you’ll see this year. Hell, I’d even venture to say it rips harder than the unlikely band of incredible surfers that unearthed this moving story.

Part of why we love this film so much is that it doesn’t have to stop when you’re done watching it. The makers of “Isolated” want you to become an “Isolated Ambassador for Peace. They’ve got plenty of information on what you can do to make an impact and help #FreeWestPapua if you check out their website.

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