STUDENT PEACE AWARDS OF FAIRFAX COUNTY & HERMAN WAINGGAI’S WEST PAPUA
Josh Leong and Sam Gollob learned about Herman Wainggai, a human rights advocate from West Papua, a Pacific Island bordering Papua New Guinea. West Papua has been controlled by the Indonesian military for 50 years, resulting in brutal treatment of the native people. Herman Wainggai received harsh treatment as a political prisoner before escaping in a small boat to Australia. He is currently a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a visiting scholar at George Mason University, advocating for UN Intervention to address the suffering of the people in West Papua.
Deeply touched by the story of Herman Wainggai’s struggles, Josh and Sam decided to make a film especially for teens. Nothing that news spreads rapidly to this audience through social media, they considered the most effective way to share his story to resonate with others their age. They decided to create a 10-minute documentary fil, Herman Wainggai: A Hidden Genocide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwbMgzej1k4) in which he describes his experiences.
Herman Wainggai: A Hidden Genocide premiered in April 2016 at the Garifuna Indigenous Film Festival in Los Angeles, Sam and Herman Wainggai were in the audience, along many influential policymakers, filmmakers, Indigenous people, and representatives from human rights organizations and humanitarian campaigns. Although their primary goal was to support Herman Wainggai’s campaign for West Papua independence, Josh and Sam also hoped to motivate other teens to look outside their affluent community and to encourage them to help people who suffer in other parts of the world.
Sam and Josh plan to continue their activism in future careers: Sam as a journalist and Josh as a film maker.