West Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to halt Indonesian torture

Indonesian police torture a pro-independence West Papuan suspect. Image: West Papua Campaign/AFP

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Free West Papua Campaign has welcomed the call by the United Nation’s human rights experts for “Prompt and impartial investigations … into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military”.

Benny Wenda, chair of the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (ULMWP), said: “The West Papuan people are crying out for their freedom and self-determination.

“In January, we handed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights a petition of 1.8 million signatures – 70 percent of the Indigenous West Papuan population – for an internationally supervised vote, a referendum, on independence from Indonesia. Finally, the Indonesian State’s brutal repression and genocidal killing is being recognised by the United Nations.”

READ MORE: UN human rights experts condemn human rights abuse and racism in West Papua

The statement from UN experts was sparked by the torture of a political prisoner with a snake.

The UN recognised that this incident is “symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police”.

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The ongoing genocide in West Papua by Indonesia is estimated to have killed 500,000 West Papuans since 1969.

The UN statement continued:

“We urge the Government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Authors of the current IPCC reporting cycle in Fiji – Dr Helene Jacot Des Combe (from left), Dr Morgan Wairiu, Professor Elisabeth Holland and Diana Salili. Image: USP/Wansolwara

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C

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The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Hard-hitting documentary explores Tongan ‘deportee dumping’ lives

In Gangsters in Paradise – Deportees of Tonga, Vice embeds with four Tongan nationals who have been sent back to where they were born after serving prison time in New Zealand and the United States. Video: Vice Zealandia

By Philip Cass

“It’s like crabs being stuck in a bucket scratching each other to get out.”

“It’s like rubbish dumping.”

Those are two views about the crisis facing Tonga as countries like the United States, Australia and New Zealand deport criminals to the kingdom.

The first comes from a deportee who talks about how it feels being sent back to struggle for a living in a country with which he and other former prisoners are often barely familiar.

The other is from Tonga’s former Commissioner of Prisons, who wants Western countries to take more responsibility for the people they deport and stop treating Tonga – along with Samoa and Fiji – as dumping grounds for people they regard as “rubbish”.

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READ MORE: Responses to Gangsters in Paradise

They are, he reminds us, human beings.

The two views come from a hard-hitting documentary, Gangsters in Paradise – The Deportees of Tonga. A regular contributor to Kaniva Tonga news, photographer Todd Henry, acted as associate producer for the Vice Zealandia documentary.

Talia’uli Prescott … permanently banned from NZ – “I loved being a bad guy, but now I want to be a good guy,” Image: Vice/Kaniva News

Statistics show that the United States deported 700 criminals to Tonga between 1992 and January 2016, an average of 29 criminals a year. However, police figures show that up to 40 percent of the criminals deported to Tonga have come from New Zealand.

Most of the deportees are men between 25-35 years and have usually done time for assault, robbery, burglary, theft and drug offences.

20 years absences
Most have lived outside Tonga for 20 years.

Last year former Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said about 400 Tongans had been deported from the US, Australia and New Zealand since 2012.

More than half had partners or children living overseas.

Gangsters in Paradise is not comfortable viewing. It begins with an interview with a deportee who admits to having been jailed when he was barely out of childhood for shooting another boy four times in the stomach.

Violence played a big part in his upbringing, as it did in the lives of other deportees. For others, migration and re-migration provided a disturbed and unstable childhood.

Talia’uli Prescott talks about joining the King Cobras in New Zealand. They were aiga he tells the camera, explaining that it is a Samoan word for family.

“When you don’t have a family, they give you one,” he explains.

Permanently banned
He is permanently banned from New Zealand.

“That’s the only world I know,” he says.

“It’s very sad.”

By good fortune he has a job at Queen Salote wharf and says that he doesn’t want his legacy to be as somebody who was deported to Tonga.

“I loved being a bad guy, but now I want to be a good guy,” he says.

Other deportees have had a harder time fitting in.

As American deportee Sione Ngaue says: “We’re judged before they even get to know us. We have a red ‘X’ against us.”

Family land
Some deportees, like Ngaue, have staked a claim to family land. He works 6 hectares after a dispute with his uncles.

While some of the interviewees regard their time in prison as a chance to rethink their lives and gain a different perspective, others have brought nothing but trouble to Tonga.

Tonga is in the midst of a methamphetamine crisis and some deportees have gone back into the drugs trade.

One scene in the film shows a dealer preparing methamphetamine for sale, boasting that he can make TP$5000 (NZ$3200) from his Sunday night trading.

And sympathetic as he might be to their plight, Prisons Commissioner Sione Falemanu says deportees have brought more crime to the kingdom and sparked a wave of robberies.

With the Tongan diaspora spread between Sydney and Salt Lake City, this issue is clearly not going to go away. After a public screening of the documentary in Auckland last week, members of the audience who spoke during a talanoa, were sympathetic, but others warned that the deporting countries would also have to take note of what was happening.

“In all honesty, this is an ongoing issue, and believe it or not, it won’t be resolved in the near future. We’re going to have a lot of deportees. And to be honest, we need to start removing the [negative] perception around deportees,” one audience member said.

However, another warned: “If New Zealand does not actually pay attention to what we are seeing, it’s going to backfire on New Zealand. We’re already seeing it.”

Dr Philip Cass is an editorial adviser for Kaniva Tonga.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Killings, arrests as military ‘flush out’ Mindanao environmental defenders

An international non-government organisation, The Global Witness, has reported that 48 individuals were killed in the country last year, a majority related to agribusiness. Image: Philstar

By KEN E. CAGULA in Davao City

The massive human rights violations committed against indigenous peoples or Lumads and peasants are designed to silence the opposition to the continuing operations of large-scale mining and plantations in Northern Mindanao and the rest of Caraga Region.

This was the assessment made by the environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment or Kalikasan PNE.

“The military is trying to flush out the opposition to mining and plantation interests in Northern Mindanao and Caraga region,” said Kalikasan PNE coordinator Leon Dulce.

READ MORE: Philippines had highest number of killed environmental defenders in Asia

Dulce points out that these Lumad and peasant leaders are the environmental defenders that continue to stand and oppose the large-scale mining and plantation operations in areas of Mindanao.

At present, these environmental defenders are protecting around 243,163 ha of forest and agricultural lands within their ancestral domains and farmlands against the encroachment of these extractive and destructive projects in Northern Mindanao and Caraga Region, he said.

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Hundreds of Lumad residents from Sitio Manluy-a, Panukmoan, and Decoy in Barangay Diatagon, Lianga town in Surigao del Sur fled from their homes after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted a series of artillery bombardment and harassments last month.

On January 24, two Manobo farmers identified as Randel Gallego and Emel Tejero, all residents of Km. 16, Brgy. Diatagon went missing after they were allegedly fired upon by soldiers while hauling abaca products.

Dead farmers
The families of the two farmers found their dead bodies at a military detachment six days after they were reported missing.

The 401st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army claimed that Gallego and Tejero were killed in a clash between soldiers and the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

But human rights advocates belied the military’s claim, saying that the two were unarmed civilians.

“The Lumad communities in Lianga are standing firmly against the coal and gold mining exploration and development projects attempting to grab lands and resources from their ancestral lands ensconced within the Andap River Valley Complex. For this, they are constantly being attacked by the military,” Dulce said.

These areas in Surigao del Sur are one of the largely militarised areas in Caraga region, prompting the exodus of IPs out from their lands due to the continuing presence of soldiers and paramilitary groups in their communities.

Kalikasan PNE also slammed the “illegal arrest” of Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organisation and Ireneo Udarbe, chair of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Northern Mindanao Region on January 28.

The police named the two leaders as “top NPA leaders” which Kalikasan PNE said is a “repeated accusation” to justify the illegal arrest.

“Goaynon and Udarbe are stalwarts of the struggles of indigenous people and peasants against agri-industrial plantations in Northern Mindanao. They have also effectively exposed military-affiliated indigenous paramilitary groups such as the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform who have been attacking Lumad lands to pave the way for mining deals,” Dulce said.

Martial law
With the continued declaration of martial rule, Kalikasan PNE said that attacks against environmental defenders continue to worsen.

At least 28 cases of environmental-related killings in Mindanao were recorded by the group since it was first declared by President Rodrigo Duterte in May 23, 2017.

They noted the “growing trend” of killed defenders vilified as members or supporters of the NPA

“The Duterte government is trying to depict our fellow environmental defenders as rebels or terrorists to justify the militarization of their bastions of natural wealth. We demand that Goaynon and Udarbe be freed and that military troops wreaking havoc in Lianga be withdrawn as soon as possible.

“Justice for the murdered defenders must be delivered and the bloody reign of Duterte’s martial law over Mindanao must be lifted immediately,” Dulce said.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Police use snake to interrogate Papuan, apologise for ‘racist’ torture

A still from a video showing Indonesian police interrogating a man suspected of theft in Wamena, Papua. Image: Jakarta Post

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Indonesian police have apologised for wrapping a snake around an indigenous Papuan they suspected of theft, reports The Jakarta Post.

A video of the incident, which took place while the police were interrogating the suspect, has been circulating on social media.

The officers involved in the incident are currently being investigated for ethical violations, said police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal.

“We apologise for that incident,” he said in a statement on Friday quoted by kompas.com.

Jannus P. Siregar, who heads the Papua Police’s internal affairs division (Propam), said the officers were using the snake to intimidate the suspect so that he would confess to the crime.

The incident reportedly took place in Wamena, Jayawijaya.

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Jayawijaya Police chief Adjutant Senior Commander Tonny Ananda Swadaya promised that his men would work professionally.

Netizen criticism
“We have taken action against the officers who did the misconduct. We are moving them to other places,” he said.

The video has sparked criticism from netizens.

Human rights lawyer Veronica Koman wrote on her Twitter account @VeronicaKoman that the suspect should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise and should not be tortured to force an admission to a crime, regardless of whether the charges leveled against him were true.

“Given the context of the persecution in Papua, this torture has features of racism,” she wrote.

Some locals, however, appeared to support the police’s actions.

Hengki Heselo, a leader in Jayawijaya regency, said the community supported the police’s stern measures to curb crime, including the use of snakes to threaten suspected criminals.

“We have felt the effects of recent police actions. The number of drunk people who carry machetes is decreasing,” he said quoted by kompas.com.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Benny Wenda: West Papuan people’s ballot petition handed over to UN

Benny Wenda and the West Papua petition … “Today is a proud moment to represent your voices.” Image: Benny Wenda FB

By Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua

As chairman of The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), I have presented the West Papuan People’s Petition for self-determination to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

With the official support from the government of Vanuatu, on behalf of the people of West Papua, I presented this petition, signed by more than 1.8 million West Papuan people to the United Nations.

To our many friends working in solidarity with the West Papuan struggle all over the world, we thank you for standing with us. Your assistance is vital in our long road to freedom.

And to the people of West Papua, thank you. Today is a proud moment to represent your voices – thank you for never giving up and for courageously coming to the streets and flying the Morning Star flag, despite the brutality you face.

Thank you for your patience, your strength and your spirit. Thank you to so many of you for having the courage to sign the historic People’s Petition – your voice is now in the hands of the United Nations.

We are making progress, together, in unity.

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It is my life mission and purpose to do all I can to ensure West Papuans are given an Internationally-Supervised Vote, a referendum. This is what the ULMWP, and all of you, work towards each day. Today is a great moment for us all.

Your humble friend,

Benny Wenda
Chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Time for US, Australia to change policy on West Papua or risk major setback

By Ben Bohane

Reports of the Indonesian military using white phosphorous munitions on West Papuan civilians last month are only the latest horror in a decades-old jungle war forgotten by the world. But new geopolitical maneuvering may soon change the balance of power here, prompting regional concern about an intensifying battle for this rich remote province of Indonesia.

It is time for the United States and Australia to change policy, complementing Pacific island diplomacy, or risk a major strategic setback at the crossroads of Asia and the Pacific.

Once again, Papuan highlanders have fled their villages into the bush where they are starving and being hunted by Indonesian security forces.

Fighting between OPM (Free Papua Movement) guerrillas and the Indonesian military has increased in recent months, creating a fresh humanitarian crisis in a region cut off from the world: Indonesia prevents all foreign media and NGOs from operating here.

This makes West Papua perhaps the only territory besides North Korea that is so inaccessible to the international community.

For years West Papuans have claimed that Jakarta has been building up its forces, including local militias, ready to unleash just as they did in East Timor before its bloody birth in 1999. Different to East Timor however, is the presence of jihadi groups too, something the OPM has warned about for some time.

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Alarming quote
Recent comments reported by Associated Press by Indonesia’s Security Minister General Wiranto, who oversaw the death and destruction during East Timor’s transition to independence in 1999, are alarming:

Earlier this week, security minister Wiranto, who uses one name, said there would be no compromise with an organization the government has labeled a criminal group.

“They are not a country, but a group of people who are heretical,” he said.”

Heretical?

This is significant – by using the word “heretical” rather than “treasonous” is Wiranto signalling a coming jihad against the West Papuans?

A low level insurgency waged by the OPM guerrillas has for decades sought independence for the mostly Christian, Melanesian population. Church groups and NGOs claim more than 300,000 Papuans have perished under Indonesian occupation since Indonesia formally annexed “Dutch New Guinea” via a UN referendum in 1969 known as the “Act of Free Choice”.

Farcical vote
It was the UN’s first decolonisation mission and it was a farce – the UN allowed a handpicked group of 1025 Papuans to vote from a population estimated at the time to be close to one million. Just in case they didn’t get the message, Indonesia’s Brig General Ali Murtopo flew in and warned:

“This is what will happen to anyone who votes against Indonesia. Their accursed tongues will be torn out. Their full mouths will be wrenched open. Upon them will fall the vengeance of the Indonesian people. I will myself shoot them on the spot.”

The UN’s own envoy overseeing the plebicite, Chakravarty Narasimihan, former UN Under secretary general in charge of the “Act of free Choice” said:

“It was just a whitewash. The mood at the United Nations was to get rid of this problem as quickly as possible. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that there were a million people there who had their fundamental human rights trampled. Suharto was a terrible dictator. How could anyone have seriously believed that all voters unanimously decided to join his regime? Unanimity like that is unknown in democracies.”

The fix was in and had US blessing; Washington arm-twisted Australia and Holland to back Indonesia’s annexation of West Papua, despite the position of both nations to have West Papua prepared for independence by 1970.

Australia would go on to deliver independence to the eastern half of New Guinea island, known as Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1975.

For decades Australia’s first line of defence was considered to be the rugged 800 km border that separates PNG from Indonesia. Long before the recent rise of China, Australia’s chief strategic concern was Indonesia, especially during times of direct conflict such as the Konfrontasi period of the 1960s and more recently when Australia led an international intervention force that secured East Timor’s independence in 1999.

Pushing east
Since the 1960s Indonesia has been pushing east, with then President Sukarno taking “West Irian” (West Papua) by force while at the same time calling PNG “East Irian” and Australia “South Irian”.

It remains one of the great “what ifs” of Australian strategic history – if Australia and Holland had ignored US pressure and continued to support West Papuan independence, it would have prevented the long running civil war there and may well have stopped Indonesia’s subsequent invasion of East Timor in 1975.

Instead, Australia reluctantly agreed to the US “New York Agreement” of 1962 and found itself being dragged into the US war in Vietnam.

It fought the wrong war.

In the decades since, Australia has sought to manage its often turbulent relationship with Indonesia, recognising its size and importance within southeast Asia, by studiously ignoring the ongoing “slow-genocide” happening in West Papua.

Not only has Australia never provided material support for its rebels or refugees, it continues to arm and train Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism unit Densus 88, which has been accused of “mission creep” in extending its operations to take out not just Islamic terrorists post 9/11, post Bali attacks, but Papuan nationalists too.

This has resulted in a lose-lose policy for Australia; after East Timor, no amount of Australian assurances of Indonesian sovereignty will ever convince Jakarta’s generals that Australia does not have designs on West Papua; at the same time Australia has lost much moral and strategic credibility among its Pacific island neighbours who all support West Papuan independence and question why their two big brothers in the Pacific – the US and Australia – continue to “throw the West Papuans to the wolves”.

But while they may have been able to ignore West Papua’s independence movement for decades, new geopolitical manouverings have emerged in the past year which signal a need to re-assess long running policy.

Social media explosion
The explosion of social media in recent years has taken this hidden war out of the shadows for good. Pacific diplomacy is isolating ANZUS policy and the West Papuan struggle will not remain a bow-and-arrow affair for much longer.

It is only a matter of time before China begins offering substantial material support and training – they are already in discussions with the West Papuan leadership. Nor are they the only player getting involved.

In December 2017, Russian Tu-95 nuclear bombers made sorties from bases on Biak island in West Papua probing the air space between Australia and Papua. It was the first time Russian nuclear bombers have operated in the South Pacific, prompting Australia to scramble fighter jets from RAAF Tindal for the first time in many years.

Jakarta has likely invited Russia to display a show of force as a warning to Australian and US forces stationed in Darwin – as well as China – lest they show any inclination to support West Papuan independence.

But can Jakarta trust Russia? Although there is considerable military co-operation between the two, Russia may have its own agenda in West Papua, recognising its resource wealth and strategic position due south of Vladivostok.

West Papuan leaders speak of Russia’s sense of having been betrayed by Indonesia in the 1960s. After Khrushchev met with Sukarno at their historic Bali summit in 1960, a time when Indonesia’s communist party the PKI was the third largest in the world, Moscow believed it had done a deal to become Indonesia’s partner in helping annex West Papua and thus gain access to the known mineral riches of West Papua, not to mention its strategic position as a gateway between Asia and the Pacific.

Instead, US President Kennedy was able to woo Sukarno (both were young, charismatic “ladies men” who hit it off together) sufficiently to broker a deal where the US would recognise Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua in an attempt to temper both Sukarno’s leftist leanings and the growing PKI.

Coup ‘re-orientation’
The deal signed in 1962 was called the New York Agreement and signalled America would not support Holland’s defence of an independent West Papua. By 1965 Kennedy was dead and Sukarno had been overthrown in a coup that led to a “re-orientation” of Indonesia.

Newly installed General Suharto purged Indonesia of communists and granted the first foreign mining licence to US company Freeport to establish a gold mine in the Puncak Jaya mountain range of West Papua, soon to become (and remain) the biggest gold mine in the world.

Russia was furious, but could do little then. China’s support for the PKI was also checked and Suharto’s 30 year dictatorship, backed by the US and allies, ensured both Russia and China lost their influence in Indonesia.

Today it is a different story.

While Russia influence in the Pacific is small but growing, Chinese influence has surged to become a major force in Pacific politics and security. Part of its engagement with Pacific island nations is to support those nations such as Vanuatu which back West Papuan independence in the face of Indonesian threats.

China’s relationship with Indonesia continues to deteriorate over issues such as rival claims in the South China Sea, nationwide demonstrations across Indonesia in support of persecuted Uighers in China, and concerns about the growing Islamification of Indonesia threatening the local Chinese (often Christian) communities.

Last year, the (Christian) Chinese Governor of Jakarta was hounded out of office by hardline Islamist groups accusing him of blasphemy.

Periodic pogroms
Indonesia’s Chinese community has long been subject to periodic pogroms (such as during the PKI crackdown in the 1960s and during the fall of Suharto in 1998) and as they watch the growing Islamification of Indonesia, they are all preparing Plan B exits, with Singapore, Malaysia and Australia top of their list.

In the past, Beijing could do little to protect the Chinese diaspora here, but today that has changed. West Papuan leaders suggest that China may have a plan to help liberate West Papua and thus provide a sanctuary for Indonesia’s persecuted Chinese community.

Were China to support West Papuan independence it would have the backing of the vast majority of Papuans and give China not just access to its huge mineral wealth, but also a strategic foothold in the south, south China Sea and a major gateway between the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

It would also win the kudos of many Pacific island nations who feel the US and Australia have not defended Pacific island interests all because of the avarice of one US company.

China is also taking note of the recent decision by neighbouring PNG to allow a major new military base on Manus island for US and Australian forces. Manus island, a naval base since WW2, would allow US and Australian naval and air force projection into the South China Sea and beyond, once again amplifying the strategic position of West Papua next door to thwart such allied projections if China got a foothold there.

China is also anticipating a Prabowo presidency in Indonesia this year, which they regard as a CIA asset, ironically backed by hardline Islamic groups, and who will be hostile to the Chinese community there. And not just hostile to China, but Australia and the Pacific too.

Australia has had a good run with amenable leaders such as SBY and Jokowi in recent years, but a Prabowo presidency would see a Duterte-like strongman likely to cause friction.

Reflexive stance
The answer in such circumstances is not to take a reflexive pro-Indonesia stance against Chinese moves, but to check both Indonesian and Chinese expansion by helping the Christian Melanesians of West Papua secure their freedom as part of the Pacific family.

Doing so is not just the right moral thing to do (correcting a previous injustice) but the right strategic thing to do: it prevents a Chinese foothold in the South Pacific, prevents Indonesian jihadis and territorial expansion east into the Pacific, secures an “air-sea gap” for Australia, properly secures a border between Muslim Asia and the Christian Pacific, and in so doing wins the admiration and loyalty of the rest of the Pacific island community precisely at a time when they are being aggressively courted by China.

This year Vanuatu, backed by dozens of countries in the ACP block (Africa, Caribbean, Pacific) is expected to introduce a motion before the UN General Assembly calling for a proper referendum on independence for West Papua and its inclusion on the United Nations De-Colonisation list.

Unless this long-running struggle is resolved soon, West Papua may soon become a major battleground between Indonesian forces including jihadis and Papuan guerrillas backed by China.

US policy has long been guided by Freeport’s commercial interests (helped by such prominent board members as Henry Kissinger and ex-President Ford), but that now pales in comparison to the strategic calculus as China moves in.

Besides, Freeport is now losing its grip – in December it finally accepted a new deal with Jakarta losing its majority ownership of the mine and the Carstenz deposit. Freeport now has been reduced to 49 percent ownership.

Of course, China is playing both sides of the fence – guess who provided funds for Jakarta to increase its equity?

Right side of history
It is time for the US to get on the right side of history. It should go back to supporting Australia and Holland’s original policy – and the rest of the Pacific’s today – by supporting a process towards West Papuan independence to halt growing Islamic and Chinese influence in the Pacific.

As one West Papuan leader told me recently:

“We have suffered for decades. If the democratic west continues to ignore our struggle we have no choice but to look east for our liberation”.

Ben Bohane is a Vanuatu-based photojournalist covering the Pacific who has reported on West Papua for the past 25 years. He is the only foreigner to have been in the three most active Command areas of the OPM operating in West Papua. This article was first published in the Journal of Political Risk and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with the permission of the author.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji warns ‘selfish’ countries amid Paris Agreement climate rulebook deadlock

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … urging world leaders to summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty to clean energy. Image: Fiji Times

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Talks to draft the Paris Agreement rulebook remained deadlocked today on traditionally tough issues.

Emerging economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – stood their ground on financial aid and the division of rich and poor countries.

Others vented their frustration. The UN chief flew back to Poland with a message that failure would be “immoral” and “suicidal”, Fiji’s prime minister said it would be “craven, irresponsible and selfish”, and a coalition of countries born in the Paris talks in 2015 was resurrected, with a call to arms.

READ MORE: Make the ‘clean energy’ switch, urges Fiji’s Bainimarama

Businesses are outpacing national governments in rolling out zero emission vehicles across Europe, North America and New Zealand, says The Climate Group as another five leading companies have joined its corporate leadership initiative EV100 and pledged to electrify their fleets by 2030.

A push has emerged in Poland for countries to step up their climate pledges and Megan Darby of Climate Home News interviews one of the scientists whose work made the world realise it is on the brink.

-Partners-

With new draft rules written by the Polish Cop24 presidency in hand by yesterday afternoon, and many issues still to be resolved, countries and groups came out swinging for their demands.

For the four Basic emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – it’s all about differentiating their responsibilities from those of rich countries, and firming up the latter’s commitments to provide financial aid.

Commitments not fully met
“There’s a bit of concern that financial commitments, as agreed to in Paris, have not yet fully been met,” said South African tourism minister Tokozile Xasa.

“It’s quite clear, the evidence shows, that not only do we need reliability in the available finance to support of the initiatives, but that the amount allocated is hopelessly inadequate.”

On the question of how the rulebook applies to countries, the group stressed that the Paris Agreement gives developing countries more leniency as they build up abilities to, for instance, track and report emissions.

“There has to be some degree of flexible reassertion of the differentiated approach … and the allowance made for developing countries,” Xasa said.

Is also another man’s Paris Agreement. The Basic group argued that inserting “equal treatment” of developed and developing countries into the rulebook would amount to a “backslide” on the accord.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete countered that the Paris Agreement called for a more flexible differentiation than the developed/developing line of the 1990s.

“We fully respect what we agreed in Paris, but Paris also points out … that we have to have an enhanced transparency system with built-in flexibilities,” he said.

Countries that need flexibility should get it, while their capabilities are built up, he added.

The Green Climate Fund has extended its search for a new executive director to 3 January. Climate Home News understands big hitters like Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and UN desertification chief Monique Barbut have been encouraged to apply, but many potential candidates are deterred by the Songdo location.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Sincha Dimara: My mother, a West Papuan survivor of many hardships, spurred along by her faith

Dominguis and Dolfintje Dimara pictured on the day they were married. Image: #InspirationalPapuaNewGuineans

PROFILE: By Sincha Dimara in Port Moresby

I once asked my mother how was it that she married at the tender age of 16 and left home in West Papua for a foreign land – neighbouring Papua New Guinea – never to see family again for more than three decades.

She told me: “When your father left for work and I was left alone, it dawned on me that I may never see my family again.

“Silent tears flowed in those quiet moments, tanta (aunty) Wanma noticed. She asked me if papa was not nice to me. I shook my head, ‘no’… it was only after the birth of my first child, that my whole world changed.”

READ MORE: Inspirational Papua New Guineans

My mother, Dolfintje Imbab, was born on 4 December 1949, four years after World World Two ended. She was 70 last week (on 4 December 2018).

She was born somewhere on the banks of the Warfor River on Supiori Island, part of the Biak Islands in West Papua at a time when villagers had been forced to move inland to escape the horrors of war.

-Partners-

She completed her primary education in 1960, in what was then a Dutch colony. She was not considered for further studies because most women back then were told to return home to assist the family male members of the family to continue their education.

This meant gardening, fishing and other daily chores to sustain the family.

Against Indonesian takeover
My father, Domingus Dimara (that’s a story on its own), came to Papua New Guinea as a young man in 1963. He was against Indonesia’s takeover of West Papua then and decided to make PNG home.

Family snapshots … Dominguis and Dolfintje Dimara. Right: Dolfintje Dimara and with their first child. Image:
#InspirationalPapuaNewGuineans

He returned in 1965 in search for a bride; my mother was chosen.

My late father was a disciplinarian and always believed in doing the right thing. Initially there was resistance from my maternal grandparents upon hearing that their daughter would marry and move far from home.

My maternal grandmother placed locally made bracelets (gelang biak) on both her arms. The bracelets identify a woman or man as a Biak person.

They were married in May 1965 in Biak town and after meeting legal and customary obligations they travelled to the capital Hollandia, now Jayapura. From there, they travelled by plane to Lae, then on to Port Moresby.

My parents lived with Om and Tanta Marjen (late Aunty and Uncle Marjen) who had earlier moved to Port Moresby after Indonesia gained control of West Papua.

My parents were also accommodated by the Wanma family. This was in the 1960s. One of mum’s early memories is witnessing the 1969 South Pacific Games in Port Moresby and the basketball matches played at the Hohola Courts.

New suburbs sprouted
A few years later when Port Moresby was beginning to expand and new suburbs sprouted, my father was able to secure a house from the National Housing Commission in 1970.

Dolfintje Imbab Dimara with her sister and grand niece in Jayapura. Image:
#InspirationalPapuaNewGuineans

In 1990, more than 30 years since her arrival in PNG, mum first crossed the border as a PNG citizen into Indonesian territory. She did so after communicating with family members through letters for more than 20 years.

Her father had passed on but her mother – my grandmother – was still alive then. She would meet family members again over the years.

In 1979, both of my parents were granted PNG citizenship along with other West Papuans. Among them were the Marjens, Sarwoms, Wanmas.

Sadly, my father passed on in 1994. My mother’s strength and love for the family has kept her going this far.

She lost three of her seven children. Edward our youngest died of heart failure in 1992. Robin was murdered by criminals in 1999 and my sister Salomina died of breast cancer in 2013.

Throughout all the hardships, I believe her faith in God has kept her going. She has mastered the Motu language, speaks a little English and Tok Pisin and made many friends in PNG.

She is also a survivor of breast cancer having gone through treatment in 2011. In a few weeks’ time she will travel home to visit her place of birth and meet her siblings again.

I jokingly asked if it was time to return for good. But I guess she’d rather spend time with the family she created – her children and grandchildren.

Sincha Dimara has been an #EMTV producer for 30 years. She is manager, news and current affairs of the television network in Papua New Guinea.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Human rights watchdog calls for police probe into ‘unclear’ Papua killings

Christmas spirit at a Human Rights Day rally in the Papuan capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Indonesian police should investigate a Papuan armed group’s killing of at least 17 people, including a soldier, at a construction area in Nduga in Papua’s densely forested Central Highlands earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said today.

The circumstances of the killings on December 2 remained unclear, said the watchdog.

Papuan militants should cease unlawful killings, and the Indonesian government should ensure that its security forces act in accordance with international standards and not commit abuses in response to the attack, said the watchdog.

READ MORE: Indonesia’s Papua media blacklist

“A Papua militant group’s attack on a worksite raises grave concerns that require a full investigation,” said Elaine Pearson of Human Rights Watch.

“Militants and responding security forces should not inflict harm on ordinary Papuans.”

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The West Papua National Liberation Army (Tentara Pembebasan Nasional Papua Barat), the military wing of the Free Merdeka Movement (Organisasi Papua Merdeka), claimed responsibility for the killings, saying those killed were military personnel from the Indonesian Army Corps of Engineers.

An army colonel said that three of the survivors of the attack were military personnel working as engineers.

Indonesian police prepare to face peaceful Papuan protesters in the capital of Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

‘Military engineers’
Sebby Sambom, a spokesman for the Papuan armed group, told the media that the attacks were organised by the militant’s group’s third Ndugama Command.

He said they had monitored the workers for three months and concluded that they were engineering corps personnel wearing civilian clothes.

However, Indonesia’s public works minister, Basuki Hadimuljono, said that those killed were workers from state-owned companies PT Istaka Karya and PT Brantas Abipraya, sent from Sulawesi to work on the 4300 km Trans-Papua highway.

He said that only the soldiers protecting the workers were armed, including the one killed in the attack.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in reaction to the attacks he had “ordered the armed forces commander and the police chief to pursue and capture all the perpetrators of such rude and violent acts”.

Priests, seminarians and students take part in a peaceful Human Rights Day march in the capital Jayapura this week. Image: Voice Westpapua

In West Papua, December 1 is widely commemorated as the day West Papua declared nationhood. In 1961, under Dutch rule, an elected council consisting mostly of indigenous Papuans commissioned the creation of a national anthem and flag.

On December 1, 1961, the West Papuan Morning Star flag was flown beside the Dutch tricolor for the first time.

Indonesia took control over Papua with United Nations recognition in 1969.

500 plus arrested
Over the last five decades, some Papuans have resisted Indonesian rule. On December 1, 2018, more than 500 students were arrested in more than 10 Indonesian cities after peacefully raising the Morning Star flag and demanding a referendum on independence.

Indonesia’s National Police initially announced that the killings in Nduga were in retribution for a worker taking photographs of Papuan militants organising a flag-raising ceremony near a road and bridge construction.

More than 100 military and police officers were evacuating the dead and injured, and engaged in a military operation against the militants.

Human Rights Watch has long documented human rights abuses in Papua’s Central Highlands, where the military and police have frequently engaged in deadly confrontation with armed groups.

Indonesian security forces have often committed abuses against the Papuan population, including arbitrary detention and torture. A lack of internal accountability within the security forces and a poorly functioning justice system mean that impunity for rights violators is the norm in Papua.

“The Indonesian security forces should exercise care when operating in Nduga, directing all security personnel to treat Papuans in accordance with international standards,” said the watchdog.

“They should transparently investigate and hold accountable anyone implicated in a criminal offence. Both the military and the police should allow journalists to operate independently in the area.”


A cartoonist’s depiction of Indonesian government restrictions on media freedom and rights monitoring in Papua. Cartoon: © 2015 Toni Malakian/Human Rights Watch

Remote access
Nduga is an extremely remote area where no journalists have had access since the attacks.

A decades-long official restriction on foreign media access to Papua and controls on Indonesian journalists there have fostered that lack of justice for serious abuses by Indonesian security forces and fueled resentment among Papuans.

“The situation in Nduga is muddled in large part because no journalists can independently go into the area to interview witnesses and verify what happened,” Pearson said.

“Having independent monitors on the ground will help deter abuses by both the militants and security forces, which would benefit all Papuans.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media