J.N. Joniad, a Rohingya writer and editor of The Archipelago writes an article on his laptop. (Photo by J.N. Joniad)

New Writing Platform Empowers Refugee, Black and POC Writers


JUNE 17, 2020

Jakarta. A new platform called The Archipelago provides a space for black, indigenous, people of color and refugee writers to showcase their work to the world.

Started by a group of refugee and migrant-background writers in 2019, the online magazine is open for submissions from writers, artists, poets, photographers, filmmakers and more.

The collective includes writers from Indonesia and Australia, and refugees from Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan who are currently stranded in Indonesia.

"We collaborate with refugee writers in Indonesia and mentor them to become published journalists and creative writers," Kieren Kresevic Salazar, a Peruvian-Australian writer and the collective's founder, told Jakarta Globe.


"As our collective developed, we decided to build The Archipelago to support the creative careers of black, indigenous and people of color creators in any location and regardless of citizenship," Salazar added.

Somalian writer Warsan Weedhsan, who is a co-director of the writers' collective in Indonesia, said writing allows her to pour experiences she could not voice as a refugee woman.

"As a writer, I can show my experiences and realities for refugee girls going through life with nonstop stigma," Weedhsan said.

J.N. Joniad, a Rohingya journalist and The Archipelago's journalism editor, said, the platform empowers refugees to solve their problems.

"When refugees can communicate their experiences with the world, they can create their own solution. Changes happen when people begin to speak up," J.N. Joniad, a Rohingya journalist and The Archipelago's journalism editor, said.

Joniad now mentors other refugees to develop their writing and journalistic skills.

"Because of The Archipelago, I have become an independent journalist myself. I am now doing the same to guide other refugees in their writing," Joniad said.

Sudanese writer Mahdi Zain said the site has helped him to become the writer he aspires to be.

"Now, I am writing to bring attention to my people in Darfur who have been suffering from ongoing civil war and racism," Zain, who is a Darfurian, said.

Some of the writers' works have appeared in global media such as Buzzfeed AustraliaAl Jazeera and Jakarta Globe.

The Archipelago is open for submissions for works themed around migration, identity and decolonization, and is seeking new writers in Southeast Asia.

The previous version of this article wrongly attributed Warsan Weedhsan's quotes, who is a woman, to Kieren Kresevic Salazar, who is a man, and J.N. Joniad, another man. The Jakarta Globe regrets the error.