Labour rally in Jakarta, Fiji march highlight global human rights issues

How UN agencies strive to put human rights at the centre of their work. Video: UN

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Hundreds of workers from the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) held a protest march at the weekend in the capital of Jakarta and Fiji’s Coalition on Human Rights staged a march today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

In Jakarta, the Indonesian workers marched from the Farmers Monument in Central Jakarta to the nearby State Palace on Saturday, reports CNN Indonesia.

During the action, the workers highlighted the problems of corruption and the failure to resolve human rights violations.

READ MORE: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

“This action is a reflection of the regime that is in power, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has failed, particularly in cases of corruption and human rights violations in Indonesia”, said KPBI secretary-general Damar Panca.

The Jakarta rally for human rights at the weekend. Image: Rayhand Purnama Karim/CNNI

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Panca said that during Widodo’s administration corruption had become more widespread as had human rights violations. Trade unions had also suffered human rights violations when holding protests.

Panca said that not long ago during a peaceful demonstration, workers were assaulted and had tear gas fired at them by security forces.

“Not just that, 26 labour activists have been indicted. So we are articulating this now because it is the right moment – namely in the lead up to Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10),” he said.

Social welfare demands
In addition to highlighting human rights violations, they also demanded that the government take responsibility for providing social welfare for all Indonesians and rejected low wages, particularly in labour intensive industries, low rural incomes and contract labour and outsourcing.

Panca said that Saturday’s action was also articulating several other problems such as inequality in employment, the criminalisation of activists and the need for free education.

The KPBI is an alliance of cross-sector labour federations. Saturday’s action was joined by the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI), the Cross-Factory Labour Federation (FBLP), the Populist Trade Union Federation (SERBUK), the Indonesian Harbour Transportation Labour Federation (FBTPI), the Indonesian Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBI), the Industrial Employees Trade Union Federation (FSPI), the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ)

“This action is not just in Jakarta, similar actions with the same demands are also being organised by KBPI members in North Sumatra. In Jakarta they have come from across Jabodetabek [Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, Greater Jakarta],” he said.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations, the hundreds of workers wearing red and carrying protest gear continued to articulate their demands from two command vehicles near the State Palace, directly in front of the West Monas intersection.

They also sang songs of struggle and followed the directions of speakers shouting labour demands. The protest was closely watched over by scores of police officers.

Fiji rally for rights
In Suva, Fiji, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights organised a march for today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

The march will begin at 10am from the Flea Market ending in a rally at Sukuna Park and is the culmination of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from November 25 to December 10.

World Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on December 10 to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

This year is a significant milestone for the UDHR as it marks its 70th Anniversary.

Human Rights Day is a day to celebrate and advocate for the protection of Human Rights globally. Since its launch in 1997, the NGOCHR now includes members such as the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Citizen’s Constitutional Forum, FemLINK Pacific, Ecumenical Centre for Research and Advocacy, Drodrolagi Movement, Social Empowerment and Education Program and observers, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Haus of Khameleon and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality.

The Indonesian report was translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Ratusan Buruh Berunjuk Rasa di Istana, Soroti Pelanggaran HAM”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nationalist thugs attack Papuan pro-independence rally in Surabaya

By Tony Firman of Tirto in Surabaya

A protest action by the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) in Indonesia’s East Java provincial capital of Surabaya yesterday demanding self-determination for West Papua has been attacked by a group of ormas (social or mass organisations).

Police later raided Papuan student dormitories in the evening and detained 233 students in a day of human rights violations as Indonesian authorities cracked down on demonstrations marking December 1 – “independence day”, according to protesters.

The group, who came from a number of different ormas, including the Community Forum for Sons and Daughters of the Police and Armed Forces (FKPPI), the Association of Sons and Daughters of Army Families (Hipakad) and the Pancasila Youth (PP), were calling for the Papuan student demonstration to be forcibly broken up.

READ MORE: Surabaya counterprotest, 300 arrested in West Papua flag demonstrations

“This city is a city of [national] heroes. Please leave, the [state ideology of] Pancasila is non-negotiable, the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is non-negotiable”, shouted one of the speakers from the PP.

At 8.33am, a number of PP members on the eastern side of Jl. Pemuda began attacking the AMP by throwing rocks and beating them with clubs. Police quickly moved in to block the PP members then dragged them back.

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The AMP protesters had began gathering at the Submarine Monument at 6am before moving off to the Grahadi building where the East Java governor’s office is located.

However they were only able to get as far as the Surabaya Radio Republic Indonesia (RRI) building before they were intercepted by police from the Surabaya metropolitan district police (Polrestabes) and the East Java district police (Polda).

‘Independence’ day
The AMP demonstration was held to mark December 1, 1961, as the day West Papua became “independent” from the Dutch. For the Papuan people, December 1 is an important date on the calendar in the Papuan struggle which is commemorated every year.

The historical moment in 1961 was when, for the first time, the West Papuan parliament, under the administration of the Dutch, flew the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag, symbolising the establishment of the state of West Papua.

Since then the Bintang Kejora was flown alongside the Dutch flag throughout West Papua until the Dutch handed administrative authority of West Papua over to the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) on October 1, 1962, then to the Indonesian government on May 1, 1963.

The UNTEA was an international mechanism involving the UN to prepare a referendum on whether or not the Papuan people wanted to separate or integrate with Indonesia.

The referendum, referred to as the Act of Free Choice (Pepera), resulted in the Papuan people choosing to be integrated into Indonesia.

Since then, the administration of West Papua has been controlled by the Indonesian government and the flying of the Bintang Kejora illegal – as it is deemed an act of subversion (maker) – and have responded to protests with violence and arrests.


A video of the arrests in Ternate, North Maluku. Video: Arnold Belau/Suara Papua

Police arrest 99 Papuan activists at pro-independence rally in Ternate
Arnold Belau of Suara Papua reports from Jayapura that at least 96 activists from the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) were arrested by police in Ternate, North Maluku, after they forcibly broke up a rally in front of the Barito Market.

A Suara Papua source from Ternate said that the FRI-WP action was closed down by police and intel (intelligence) officers and the demonstrators forced into trucks as they were about to begin protesting in front of the Barito Market.

The source said that several activists were dragged and assaulted as they were forced into the truck.

“Several comrades who were at the action were dragged and forced to get into a truck by police and intel in Ternate,” they said.

The source said that as many as 99 people were arrested, 12 of them from West Papua and the rest activists from FRI-WP. One of the protesters had to be rushed home because because of breathing difficulties.

“One of the people had difficulty breathing and was rushed home. Twelve people were from Papua and the rest from Ternate. Currently they are being taken to Polres [district police station]”, they said.

Ternate district police Tactical Police Unit head (kasat sabhara) Aninab was quoted by semarak.news.com as saying that the protesters would be taken to the Ternate district police station.

‘Given guidance’
“We will take them to Polres, question them. If in the process of delving into the matter it is discovered that they committed a violation then they will be charged, but we will bear in mind that are still young and [they should be] given guidance,” he said.

Earlier, the protesters sent a written notification of the action to the Ternate district police but it was rejected with police saying that the planned action was subversive (maker).

Upon arriving at the Ternate district police station they will be registered and those who originate from Papua will be separated from those from North Maluku.

FRI-WP is demanding that the Indonesian government must resolve human rights violations in Papua and that the Papuan people be given the freedom to hold a referendum to determine their own future.

Background
Although it is widely held that West Papua declared independence from Indonesia on December 1, 1961, this actually marks the date when the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag was first raised alongside the Dutch flag in an officially sanctioned ceremony in Jayapura, then called Hollandia.

The first declaration of independence actually took place on July 1, 1971 at the Victoria Headquarters in Waris Village, Jayapura.

Known as the “Act of Free Choice”, in 1969 a referendum was held to decide whether West Papua, a former Dutch colony annexed by Indonesia in 1963, would be become independent or join Indonesia. The UN sanction plebiscite, in which 1,025 handpicked tribal leaders allegedly expressed their desire for integration, has been widely dismissed as a sham.

Critics claim that that the selected voters were coerced, threatened and closely scrutinised by the military to unanimously vote for integration.

Both of these articles were translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the Surabaya article was “Peringatan 1 Desember Papua, Demo AMP Surabaya Diadang PP & FKPPI” and the Jayapura one “Peringati Hari Lahirnya Embrio Negara Papua Barat, Polisi Tangkap 99 Orang di Ternate”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nauru 19 to appear in first sitting of nation’s new Court of Appeal

T-shirts worn by family and supporters of the 19 Nauruans who were prosecuted by government for staging a protest outside of Parliament in 2015. Image: RNZP/Nauru 19/ Facebook

By RNZ Pacific

The group known as the Nauru 19 will go back to court next week in what will be the first sitting of the Nauru Court of Appeal.

The Nauru 19 were charged over an anti-government protest more than three years ago and are facing an appeal from the Nauru government.

The group, which includes a former Nauru president, had sought a permanent stay on legal proceedings against them, arguing the trial process dragged on too long and that the government had not met a court directed order to pay some of the expenses of the group’s Australian lawyers.

Justice Geoff Muecke, who was brought in by the Nauru government to hear the case, granted a permanent stay on the proceedings, saying the government’s conduct throughout had been a “shameful affront to the rule of law”.

Now the government is appealing this decision.

The Nauru Court of Appeal was set up after the government secretly ended its use of the Australian High Court as Nauru’s appellate court earlier this year.

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The Nauru 19 believe this move was another attempt to deny them a fair trial.

The judges hearing the appeal are high ranking members of Pacific judiciaries – Tonga’s Chief Justice Michael Scott, Kiribati Chief Justice John Muria and PNG Supreme Court judge Nicholas Kirriwom.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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Couple remanded in big Vanuatu human trafficking, slavery case

By Richard M. Nanua and Royson Willie in Port Vila

Vanuatu’s Magistrates Court has remanded a Bangladeshi couple over what is alleged to be the biggest human trafficking and slavery case in Vanuatu and the region.

Sekdah Somon and Buxoo Nabilah Bibi – the owners of the “Mr Price” home and furniture store in Vanuatu – were arrested and charged with 12 counts of human trafficking.

Somon and Bibi are also facing 12 counts each of slavery, contrary to section 102 (a) and 11 additional counts of money laundering against section 11 (3) (a) of the Penal Code.
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The Vanuatu Daily Post was reliably informed that between September 21, 2018 and November 2018 Somon and Bibi allegedly brought in 12 people from Bangladesh illegally to find jobs in Vanuatu.

Reliable sources confirmed that complainants have filed complaints within the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and the proceedings commenced after the arrest of the accused in Port Vila.

They said 92 people had been allegedly illegally brought to Vanuatu by the couple and their cases are yet to be dealt with and brought before the court.

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The Daily Post was also informed the couple were from Bangladesh but the husband had a Zimbabwe passport while his wife was using a Mauritius passport.

Other passports
The couple were denied bail in the Magistrates Court on Wednesday amid concerns the couple may have other passports in their possession that made them a possible flight risk as they are originally from one country but evidence indicated they are using passports from different countries.

The Magistrates Court said that any bail should be obtained at the higher court after considering the seriousness of the offending is of public importance.

The couple were rejected bail because they might interfere with the witnesses.

The victims were placed in various locations in Port Vila.

Sources confirmed while the case was still under investigation there might also be some breaches in Vanuatu immigration laws, labour laws and Vanuatu Financial Service Commission (VFSC) laws.

They said it was likely that more people would be charged depending on the findings of the investigation.

The Daily Post was told the couple allegedly arranged and facilitated their entry in Vanuatu using deception, denial of their freedom of movement, coercion or threat of violence exploited and placed them in servitude.

Bangladeshi workers
They said after the 12 Bangladeshi workers came to Vanuatu, the couple allegedly subjected them to slavery by engaging them in work under oppressive terms and conditions, under menace of penalty and without freedom to leave at any time.

There were allegations these workers were promised good money for jobs in Vanuatu but they have to pay them some money in return for the offer.

The sources said that some of them allegedly paid $US2000 to the couple, some paid $US3900, $US4000, $US5000, $US6000 and $US8000.

They said the couple were alleged to have directly and indirectly made arrangements that involved property that they knew or ought to have known to be proceeds of crime when they procured those amounts from the victims.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, has confirmed the arrest of the investor behind “Mr Price” in relation to alleged money laundering and human trafficking.

While the couple are known as owners of Mr Price, sources said the investigation was still underway to check whether or not the company had a link with the global Mr Price.

This is not the first time that Mr Price Asian Junction has been in the spotlight in Vanuatu as in June this year 21 work permits were revoked for workers brought in from overseas by the company.

Buzz 96FM interview
“We didn’t want to come out in the media to talk about the case because of the sensitivity of it,” Minister Napuat told Buzz 96FM’s Kizzy Kalsakau.

“But since people are already talking about, I felt that it’s good that we come out and provide initial clarifications.”

After the revocation of work permits, the investors appealed to the minister and the revocations were reversed but with conditions to employ ni-Vanuatu and for imported workers to do work they came to do.

The minister said the investigation would take a while.

He said appropriate authorities such as the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) and Customs Department and Ministry of Finance that are responsible for business licenses will have to be consulted.

Napuat said those brought to work under Mr Price would be treated as witnesses in the case against the investor behind Mr Price.

He denied rumours that people were brought in from overseas in containers.

False information
Minister Napuat is appealing for members of the public not to spread false information about the issue.

Meanwhile, Acting CEO of Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority Kalpen Silas said due diligence was carried out before Mr Price’s application was forwarded to the VIPA board for approval.

However, Silas said one of the requirements under the VIPA Act was that any investor who breaks any Vanuatu law through provision of false information would be penalised.

He said VIPA was aware of investigations currently being carried out on Mr Price.

The case is expected to resume within two weeks.

Human trafficking has been defined as the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation.

The maximum penalty for this in Vanuatu as set out in section 102 (b) of the Penal Code Act [CAP 135] is 20 years behind bars.

This article is republished from the Vanuatu Daily Post with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Ben Bohane: A tribute to the ‘grand old man’ of the OPM Bernard Mawen

OPM Southern Commander Bernard Mawen (right) with Commander John Koknak (left) and the Morning Star flag at the time of being interviewed by Vanuatu-based journalist Ben Bohane in 1998. Image: © Ben Bohane

OBITUARY: By Ben Bohane

The Free Papua Movement (OPM) Southern Commander Bernard Mawen has died. He was the “grand old man” of the OPM, one of the first to begin the armed struggle for independence in West Papua in the 1960s and he will be missed by his people.

I interviewed him in 1998 in his camp along the Fly river on the border where he lived among the thousands of West Papuan refugees forgotten on the PNG border, who live on little more than sago and bananas.

Indirectly, his OPM guerrillas remain a protective buffer for both PNG and Australia against Indonesian aggression but it’s unlikely you’ll hear any eulogies from Canberra or Moresby and certainly not from Jakarta.

He lived for his people, in the bush, and that’s all you can ask of a leader. RIP.

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SODELPA’s Rabuka cleared for Fiji election – FICAC appeal dismissed

A media scrum at the Fiji High Court 2 today for the anti-corruption agency FICAC’s unsuccessful appeal against the acquittal of SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka on a false declaration of assets charge. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC

By Sri Krishnamurthi in Suva

In a dramatic afternoon, more than 1000 people sang Fijian songs of jubilation as Chief-Justice Anthony Gates dismissed the appeal by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) against former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

In a jam-packed High Court 2, Chief Justice Gates said the magistrate was correct to dismiss the original charges of not guilty of providing a false declaration of assets under electoral rules.

The FICAC took its appeal to the High Court as was its legal right.

Chief Justice Gates said that had Rabuka been found guilty, he would have had the right to appeal his case in the High Court too.

In his 36-page ruling, Chief Justice Gates said the magistrate had been correct in his findings that the prosecution had not been able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

He said that the interview conducted by FICAC with Rabuka left many answers unprobed or unclarified.

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He went on to say such interviews should always be conducted on the basis that reliance may have to be made solely on that procedure.

Acquitted last month
Rabuka was acquitted of the charges last month but FICAC had appealed that decision, taking its case to the High Court.

The hearing lasted more than an hour, after which Rabuka emerged to the cheers of joy from his supporters wearing a white shirt over which he draped a red scarf, all the time smiling but looking relieved.

Now that he is a free man he can stand as a candidate in the Fiji general election as the leader of SODELPA, the second largest political party after the ruling FijiFirst Party.

Voting is on Wednesday.

Vandhana Bhan from Radio Tarana, who got close to Rabuka’s white SUV, asked him the age-old question “how are you feeling?”

Rabuka replied, “great and getting better.”

She asked Rabuka if he had anything to say to the people? “Thank you to all of them for their prayers,” he said before being whisked away.

Sri Krishnamurthi is a journalist and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at Auckland University of Technology. He is attached to the University of the South Pacific’s Journalism Programme, filing for USP’s Wansolwara News and the AUT Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report.

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FijiFirst scores head start on social media for election, says journalist

Pacific Media Centre journalist Sri Krishnamurthi … returning to Fiji for the general election after earlier special reporting with Wansolwara in Suva. Image: Rahul Bhattarai/PMC

By Rahul Bhattarai in Auckland

Fijians are counting down for their general election on Wednesday after early voting that started on November 5.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s ruling FijiFirst party is expected to win but with a reduced majority after a vigorous social media campaign to accumulate more votes before the media blackout which starts at midnight tonight.

Bainimarama has made “effective use of social media” to gain more supporters, says Pacific Media Centre journalist Sri Krishnamurthi, who returned to Fiji today to cover the election after doing a series of “preview” articles in September.

READ MORE: Krishnamurthi’s background briefing on the Fiji election

“Social media in Fiji has 85.1 percent use of Facebook and no other platform comes anywhere near close to that,” he said.

“FijiFirst is using Facebook very effectively as a tool. There is no control of the social media, whereas the Media Industry Development Decree curbs the media itself and that’s really strange.”

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FijiFirst also uses Qorvis, a New York-based global corporate relations company that lobbies internationally for the Bainimarama government.

“I think FijiFirst will win having won more than 60 percent of the vote in 2014, but they also need a robust opposition, and that isn’t going to happen with [original coup leader in 1987] Sitiveni Rabuka back in court,” said Krishnamurthi.

Hampered by courts
“FijiFirst will have a majority but how much is debatable, as people once again get used to voting and exercising their democratic rights,” he said.

Another advantage for FijiFirst was that opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka had been hampered in his election campaign by court action against him in an attempt to strip him of his eligibility to stand for Parliament.

People in Fiji were tired or frequent coups and an uncertain future.

“The people want stability, after 30 years of coups and uncertainty,” said Krishnamurthi.

Fiji-born Krishnamurthi will be in the country for the next five days to cover the 2018 Fiji election.

A former NZ Press Association news agency journalist, he is currently a digital media postgraduate student at Auckland University of Technology and will be reporting for the University of the South Pacific journalism programme newspaper Wansolwara and the PMC’s Asia Pacific Report.

Postgraduate student coverage
As well as the Fiji general election, postgraduate student journalists are also covering the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in Papua New Guinea next weekend with a team including Pauline Mago-King and Rahul Bhattarai.

Centre director Professor David Robie has just returned from New Caledonia where he covered last weekend’s historic independence referendum.

“This is quite unique in New Zealand journalism schools for coverage of this kind of major events happening in the Pacific,” said Dr Robie.

He praised the USP regional journalism programme and media organisations such as RNZ Pacific and SBS that enabled PMC partnerships in the region.

Sri Krishnamurthi (from left), Professor David Robie, Pauline Mago-King and Rahul Bhattarai at a Pacific Media Centre editorial meeting this week. Image: Stephanie Tapungu/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji PM rebukes journalist when challenged on media freedom laws

FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama … tops the pre-election polls. Image: David Robie/PMC

By Hannah Sinclair of SBS in Lautoka

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama says the country’s restrictive media laws are not affecting next week’s general election.

Journalists are free to criticise the Fiji government in the lead up to the election on Wednesday, according to Bainimarama.

During his FijiFirst party’s final campaign rally in Lautoka over the weekend, Bainimarama told foreign journalists he had encouraged criticism of the government during the campaign.

“Media freedom is here in Fiji. [If] anybody wants to criticise the government, they can criticise the government,” Bainimarama told SBS.

Since leading a coup in 2006 and taking power, Bainimarama has overseen a strict tightening of Fiji’s media laws.

Almost no criticism of the government is published or broadcast in Fiji with journalists restricted by the draconian 2010 Media Industry Development Decree.

AUT Pacific Media Centre’s Sri Krishmamurthi arrived in Fiji today to report the elections with the Wansolwara team at the University of the South Pacific. SRI’s FIJI ELECTIONS FILE. Image: David Robie/PMC

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Violations of the decree are punishable by up to two years in prison.

‘What the hell?’
“The media has been criticising the government, so what the hell are you talking about?” Bainimarama said when asked if media freedom laws inhibited the free and fair nature of the election.

Local journalists did not ask critical questions of the Prime Minister at the Lautoka rally.

Bainimarama was visibly irritated when asked by SBS if he was encouraging criticism during the campaign.

“I think you [can] go back to Australia,” Bainimarama told SBS.

“Go back to Australia and then come back to Fiji and see what life is all about in Fiji.”

The editor-in-chief, publisher and manager of one of the country’s most popular news outlets The Fiji Times, along with the editor of the vernacular sister publication, were acquitted of spurious sedition charges earlier this year for publishing a letter that contained controversial views about Muslims in Nai Lalakai.

Fiji’s election will be held on Wednesday with Bainimarama up against another former coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka who is accused of starting off the “coup culture” with his own two coups in 1987 and is now leading the main opposition SODELPA party.

Media blackout
A 48-hour media blackout comes into force at midnight tonight until polls close, which will see all signage and campaign activities cease.

International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranks Fiji in 57th place – out of 180 nations – in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index. The group points in particular to the impact of the 2010 decree.

“Coverage of the 2018 parliamentary elections will be a decisive test for Fijian press freedom,” the organisation said in its index.

Hannah Sinclair is an SBS journalist covering the Fiji general election.

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‘Victim blaming’ in latest Indonesian uni sex abuse case angers thousands

By Sri Wahyuni and Evi Mariani in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

An leading Indonesian university’s initial response to a recent sexual assault case allegedly involving two of its students has angered thousands of people, who have signed a petition demanding that the Yogyakarta institution punish the student perpetrator and the campus officials who had penalised the student victim.

In less than 24 hours, the online petition protesting against the 70-year-old Gadjah Mada University (UGM) on change.org had garnered more than 55,000 signatories by Wednesday morning, with more people signing every second to reach more than 167,000 signatories by mid-afternoon today.

“We demand that the UGM rector, the advisory board and the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry to strengthen regulations on preventing sexual assault and law enforcement against sex offenders,” the petition states as one of its demands.

READ MORE: An alumna at UGM appeals to the university to be a pioneer against sexual abuse

A separate call to a rally on Thursday has been circulating on social media to demand that the university thoroughly investigate the case and create a safe campus environment.

The call says that UGM is facing “a sexual violence emergency”, pointing out that the latest case was not the university’s first and that UGM has not been siding with victims.

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On November 5, Balairung published an investigative report based on the testimony of a female student under the pseudonym Agni, who gave the UGM student magazine permission to publish the full details of her account.

Agni said that a fellow student had assaulted her during a community service project (KKN) at a Maluku village on June 30, 2017. The KKN is a kind of field school programme that lasts several months, during which the students live with local families in the target village.

Homestay lodging
Agni said she was visiting a villager until late evening at their home where fellow KKN student “HS” was staying, so she decided to spend the night at HS’ homestay and return to her own lodging in the morning.

They had to share a single room that night, Agni said, but that they were separated by some distance in the room. She also said she slept fully clothed and still in her headscarf.

Early the following morning, she said she felt HS groping her, opening her top, kissing her breasts and inserting his fingers in her genitalia. She froze in momentary shock until she felt pain that prompted her to yell at HS, “What are you doing!”

Agni said she immediately reported the incident to the KKN supervisor and the UGM Community Service Department (DKPM), which managed the programme. The university officials cut short HS’ programme and sent him back to Yogyakarta, but Agni said they also blamed her for the incident, with one official telling her to “repent”, reported Balairung.

Agni said that after the assault, she often felt scared at night and ended up staying awake all night. She also had suicidal thoughts, she said as quoted by Balairung.

In November 2017, Agni learned that she received a C for her KKN assignment, while her peers on the same programme received an A or a B. Agni said she asked about the reason for her low grade, and that the KKN management responded that she had to share the blame for the incident that “embarrassed UGM” in front of the local villagers.

In the Balairung article, a university official who declined to be named said that the student press should not be in a rush to call Agni a victim. “Like a cat given salted fish, it will at least sniff it and might even eat the fish, right?” Balairung quoted the official as saying in reference to Agni.

Low grade reported
In December 2017, Agni reported the C she received for her KKN assignment and the circumstances surrounding it to her academic department, the Social and Political Sciences Faculty (Fisipol).

The Fisipol’s cooperation, alumni and research deputy dean, Poppy Sulistyaning Winanti, and the deputy dean for academics and student affairs, Wawan Mas’udi, followed up on her case to the top administrative level.

An inter-departmental independent investigation team was formed that recommended Agni’s KKN grade be revise from C to A/B. The team also recommended that the perpetrator write an apology and attend a mandatory counseling session for sexual abusers.

On Tuesday, in response to the Balairung article, Fisipol UGM posted a statement on its Instagram account, @fisipolugm, reiterating its commitment to “side with victim”.

“With this, Fisipol UGM states that we side with the survivor to find justice and a thorough solution to the problem,” the statement said.

It also said that steps had been taken to deal with “Agni’s” case, including a letter it sent to the rector on December 22, 2017, that asked the university to manage the case thoroughly.

Fisipol said that the rector arranged a closed meeting with relevant parties in response to its letter, and agreed during the meeting to set up an investigation team that involved several departments. The rector also agreed to sanction the DKPM officials for their “ignorance” in their initial handling of the incident until “the survivor” reported the case to Fisipol.

Trauma counselling
During the same meeting, Fisipol said it agreed to engage psychologists to provide trauma counseling for “the survivor”.

The statement continued that, after an intensive investigation, the team submitted its recommendations to the rector on July 20, 2018, which included punishment for the perpetrator, protection and support for the victim and improvements to managing the KKN programme.

“This is why Fisipol UGM is pushing for a thorough and speedy management of the case by implementing the follow-up measures as recommended by the investigation team,” the statement said, ending with a call to all parties to create a campus that was free from sexual abuse.

Separately, UGM public relations and protocol head Ariani said the university would continue its work to make sure that the victim received protection and justice.

“Next, UGM will soon take the necessary real steps to take the case to the legal domain,” Ariana said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Other UGM cases
In 2016, a sexual abuse case that involved several female victims among Fisipol students rocked the university. The perpetrator, EH, was a respected lecturer and the head of the international relations department at the time of the incident.

EH was stripped of his positions, but is still officially employed as a UGM lecturer.

The investigative report in the Balairung student magazine also cited other unresolved sexual assault cases at UGM.

Sexual assault at universities

Many commentators believe that the incidents of sexual assault at universities that have emerged in the public eye are a mere tip of the iceberg.

In 2008, the University of Indonesia (UI) Law School received sexual assault reports from several students on a lecturer, TN.

As in the case of UGM’s EH, TN also sexually assaulted his students during one-on-one thesis consultations. TN was later dismissed from UI but he was still being interviewed by the media.

Women’s empowerment and rights activist Damairia Pakpahan said she had represented a sexual assault victim of a humanities lecturer at UGM, but that the case did not go anywhere.

The reporters are Jakarta Post journalists.

#kitaAGNI

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

3 killed in West Papua clashes as military pursue elusive rebel leader

Indonesian military and West Papuan pro-independence militants in fresh clashes … new intensity in the Highlands fighting. Image: Victor Yeimo FB page

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

At least three people have been killed in a week of shooting clashes between the Indonesian military and police and  militants from the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB), say reports from the Jakarta-ruled Pacific territory.

The Victor Yeimo pro-independence social media page says the military are trying to capture Purom Wenda, a TPN-PB commander.

Victor Yeimo is chairman of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

News agency sources said two Papuan independence fighters and a third person had been killed during the clashes in the remote interior highlands of West Papua.

Wenda has eluded Indonesian security forces for 15 years.

Villagers have fled into the jungle because of the gunbattles, which have been intense since November 2.

-Partners-

Wenda said in a statement two of his fighters had been killed in a shootout with police and soldiers in the rugged Lanny Jaya district after his group shot dead a motorbike taxi driver they believed was spying for Indonesian forces.

“Indonesia said that they have given us special autonomy, infrastructure, and other excuses. We do not want all that. We only want freedom.”

Raising awareness
Meanwhile, RNZ Pacific reports that a group of around 200 people called the West Papua Interest Association had crossed over the border into PNG’s Western Province last week.

It wrote to local police notifying of plans to raise awareness about rights issues.

In response PNG’s police border commander, Samson Kua, advised them not to proceed with their plans.

He said he did not want people disturbing the peace around the time PNG is hosting next week’s APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) leaders summit in Port Moresby.

“They will have to wait until APEC is over, and they can do their awareness on whatever they want to do. So actually they’re very peaceful,” Kua said.

“They’re not getting involved with any awareness at the moment, they’re very peaceful. They’re just laying low and staying in their own camps.”

The West Papuans are within their rights to be in PNG, as they hold Traditional Border Crossing cards which allow them to travel over the border into PNG.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media