Widodo wants security forces to guard all development projects in Papua

Sixteen bodies have been retrieved from the killings of workers on a Papuan infrastructure project claimed by pro-independence militants to be Indonesian soldiers. Image: Hark Arena

By Ray Jordan in Lampung, Indonesia

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo insists that work on the Trans-Papua road project will continue despite this week’s shooting of construction workers in the Papua regency of Nduga.

Widodo is asking that all infrastructure projects and Trans-Papua construction workers always be accompanied by security personnel.

For the moment, Widodo said that the government would prioritise the evacuation of the victims of the shooting by the West Papuan Liberation Army that is regularly branded by the authorities as armed criminal “separatists”.

READ MORE: West Papua independence leader urges calm after killings

“Yes this is because there is still a process there that isn’t finished yet, we will prioritise the evacuation as quickly as possible. After that construction will continue”, Widodo told journalists at the Mahligai Agung Convention Hall at the Bandar Lampung University in Lampung City, North Sumatra.

According to The Jakarta Post, the casualties include 19 workers of state-owned construction company PT Istaka Karya, who had been assigned to build a 275 km section to connect Wamena and Mamugu as part of President Widodo’s flagship trans-Papua road project.

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One Indonesian Military (TNI) soldier was also killed.

But the West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA), which claimed responsibility for the attack and said 24 people had been killed, alleged the workers were in fact soldiers in disguise, according to RNZ Pacific.

Independence rallies
Last Saturday, as members of the Liberation Army held a ceremony to commemorate Papua’s independence from Dutch colonial rule on December 1, 1961, as part of many rallies across Papua, Indonesia and internationally, a worker was said to have snapped a photo of the scene.

This enraged the militants.

In Sumatra, President Widodo said that wherever construction work was being carried out in Papua, workers must be accompanied by security forces in order to provide a sense of safety.

A Papuan freelance journalist John Pakage, who was reportedly beaten by members of the Indonesian Mobile Brigade Corps and his family threatened. Image: Wenslaus

“I want to convey that wherever construction work is going on it is always accompanied by security personnel in order to truly provide security guarantees for workers who are working in the field, in the jungles, in preparing infrastructure, particularly roads in the land of Papua which will never stop, but will continue regardless,” he said.

Widodo said the government’s goal was to continue development in Papua in order to create a sense of social justice in eastern Indonesia. Widodo said he wanted all of Indonesian society to experience this development.

“This is to provide infrastructure in the land of Papua and secondly also social justice for all Indonesian people to address the discrepancies in infrastructure between Java and Papua, between the east and west, that is what we can truly pursue”, said Widodo.

Earlier, national police chief General Tito Karnavian claimed that the West Papua Liberation Army led by Egianus Kogoya numbered no more than 50 people who had around 20 firearms.

‘Diplomatic’ resolution
The Guardian reports that Benny Wenda, the chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), said it was hard to know exactly what happened at Nduga, amid conflicting reports on the long-running tensions, and without free access for media or human rights groups.

Indonesian authorities had not responded to requests for comment from The Guardian.

Wenda told The Guardian he could not stop the liberation army but wanted to tell them the UMLWP wanted to solve the issue “diplomatically”.

“We don’t want any bloodshed, we want Indonesia to come to the international table to discuss and we can agree to a referendum That’s what our campaign is about,” he said.

Sebby Sambom, spokesman for the WPNLA, the military wing of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), said in a telephone interview that they attacked a government construction site last weekend because they believe the project is conducted by the military, according to Jawa Pos TV.

“Trans-Papua road projects are being carried out by Indonesian military and that is a risk they must bear,” Sambom said.

“We want them to know that we don’t need development, what we want is independence.”

According to Wenslaus, John Pakage, a freelance journalist who was also a former Reuters and Tabloid Jubi journalist, was beaten by members of the Indonesian Mobile Brigade Corps and his family threatened.

Detik News translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Jokowi Minta Pekerja Trans Papua Selalu Didampingi Aparat Keamanan“.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

RSF condemns killing of radio journalist – shot in Philippines

Philippine radio journalist Joey Llana … shot at least 14 times in ambush as he drove to work at Radio DwZR in Legazpi City. Image: RSF Paris

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the killing of Philippine radio journalist Joey Llana near Legazpi City, at the southeastern tip of the island of Luzon, and has called on the authorities to do everything possible to find those responsible.

Joey Llana, 38, was gunned down yesterday as he drove to work at Radio DwZR in Legazpi City, where he hosted a morning radio programme, reports the Paris-based global media freedom watchdog RSF.

Local police said he was hit at least 14 times in the head and body by shots fired by five unidentified gunmen.

The police have not yet identified a motive but a relative said Llana had recently received death threats, which suggested that he had been targeted in connection with his work.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, condemned the murder and said it would be investigated by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.

We condemn radio journalist Joey Llana’s murder in the strongest terms as it is a serious press freedom violation, and we welcome the decision by the president’s office to open an immediate investigation and its declared desire to render justice to the victim,” a statement from RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk said.

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“The Philippines, which is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in Asia, must do everything possible to effectively combat violence against the media and impunity for this violence.”

Third journalist killed
If the initial suspicions are confirmed, Llana will be the third journalist to have been murdered this year in the Philippines in connection with their work, reports RSF.

Newspaper journalist Dennis Denora was slain in a similar fashion in the southern province of Davao del Norte in June, as was radio show host Edmund Sestoso in the central province of Negros Oriental in May.

At least six other journalists have been killed in connection with their work since Duterte, who is prone to virulent verbal attacks on the media, was elected president in 2016.

The Philippines fell six places in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index and is now ranked 133rd out of 180 countries.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Duterte says as ‘parent of nation,’ he can order detention of ‘tambays’

‘Father of the nation’ President Rodrigo Duterte defends his order against loiterers. Image: Malacañang

By Pia Ranada in Manila

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has cited the power of the state to act as parents of persons needing protection as a defence of his order against “tambays” (loiterers).

“Of course, I can accost you. Under the power of parens patriae, you are the father of the nation. I can always give an advice for people like minors,” he said yesterday during a summit in Davao City on the southern island of Mindanao.

Parens patriae, which is Latin for “parent of the nation,” refers to the power of the state to act as the parent of a person when their actual parents or guardians are neglectful or abusive.

READ MORE: Photos, death certificate show Genesis ‘Tisoy’ Argoncillo beaten to death

“If you are unruly, go home or you are arrested. That is the police power of the state. Let them contest that in the Supreme Court,” he added.

His turned defensive apparently after reading in his briefings of senators “postulating” on his controversial order for police to “pick up” loiterers.

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Within days of his order, thousands were arrested for loitering supposedly while also violating local ordinances on curfews, drinking in public, smoking in public, and public nudity.

“Tambay” Genesis Argoncillo died in police custody from “multiple blunt force trauma”. Image: Rappler cellphone

One such “tambay,” Genesis Argoncillo, died in prison from multiple blunt force trauma.

Duterte also said he had read the recent Social Weather Stations survey that found that fear of robberies, unsafe streets, and drug addicts had risen in Mindanao, his home island.

No order to ‘arrest’
Twice in his speech, he insisted that he did not tell police to “arrest” loiterers.

“I never said arrest them, napakaga gago (such fools) … Why don’t you just listen, i-rewind mo yung sinabi ko (rewind what I said),” he said.

The exact words of Duterte’s order on June 14 are: “My directive is ‘pag mag-istambay-istambay sabihin niyo, ‘Umuwi kayo. ‘Pag ‘di kayo umuwi, ihatid ko kayo don sa opisina ni ano don, Pasig’. Ako na ang bahala, ilagay mo lang diyan. Talian mo ‘yung kamay pati bin–ihulog mo diyan sa ano.”

(My directive is if there is someone who stands by, tell them, ‘Go home. If you don’t go home, I will bring you to the office of – there in Pasig.’ Leave it up to me. Just put them there. Tie their hands together even the – drop them at –)

Duterte’s exact words referring to loiterers in a September 2017 speech were: “Tignan ‘nyo may maglakad pa ba na – eh ngayon, sabi ko sa pulis, ‘Pikapin mo.’” (See if there’s anyone walking around – now, I told the police, ‘Pick them up.’)

The Philippine National Police, however, appeared to interpret the President’s words as an order to take loiterers allegedly violating local laws to prisons and detaining them.

The President is known for his stream-of-consciousness style of speaking in which he often does not complete sentences or does not elaborate on confusing, sometimes contradictory messaging.

Loitering ‘not a crime’
Duterte admitted in his Friday speech that loitering “is not a crime” but that he can arrest persons for drinking in public.

“If you are drinking diyan sa alley, ‘yang mga (in the alley, in the) squatters area, if you are there making a sala (living room) out of the roads there, ‘tang-ina, huhulihin talaga (son of a bitch, you will get caught),” he said.

After Duterte’s order, there was a reported case of a group of friends detained by police who were told the only reason for the action was Duterte’s verbal command.

Argoncillo, the 22-year-old alleged “tambay” who was killed in jail had been arrested for supposedly causing “alarm and scandal”.

Pia Ranada is a Rappler journalist.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

RSF media freedom round-up for 2017 – 65 journalists killed, 326 in prison

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: RSF media freedom round-up for 2017 – 65 journalists killed, 326 in prison

Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker reports from London. Video: Al Jazeera/RSF

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Reporters Without Borders has documented the number of journalists killed or jailed this year.

It says Syria and Mexico are among the most dangerous places for reporters to work. Sixty percent of journalists killed are targeted because of their journalistic work.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released its annual round-up of violence and abuses against journalists throughout the world.

A total of 65 journalists were killed in 2017, 326 are currently in prison, and 54 are held hostage.*

The 65 journalists who were killed were either fatally injured in the course of their work (for example, in an artillery bombardment) or were murdered because their reporting angered someone. The murdered reporters were the majority – 60 percent of the total figure.

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Although these figures are alarming, 2017 has been the least deadly year for professional journalists (50 killed) in 14 years. Journalists are of course fleeing countries such as Syria, Yemen and Libya that have become too dangerous, but RSF has also observed a growing awareness of the need to protect journalists.

The UN has passed several resolutions on the safety of journalists since 2006 and many news organisations have adopted safety procedures.

Deaths of women double
The fall does not apply to deaths of women journalists, which have doubled. Ten have been killed in 2017, compared to five in 2016.

Most of these victims were experienced and combative investigative reporters. Despite threats, they continued to investigate and expose cases of corruption.

The victims include Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta, Gauri Lankesh in India and Miroslava Breach Velducea in Mexico.

In another noteworthy trend in 2017, some countries that are not at war have become almost as dangerous for journalists as war zones: 46 percent of the deaths occurred in countries where no overt war is taking place, as against 30 percent in 2016.

There were almost as many deaths (11) in Mexico as in Syria, which was the deadliest country for journalists in 2017, with 12 killed.

“Investigative journalists working on major stories such as corruption and environmental scandals play a fundamental watchdog role and have become targets for those who are angered by their reporting,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

‘Alarming situation’
“This alarming situation underlines the need to provide journalists with more protection at a time when both the challenges of news reporting and the dangers are becoming increasingly internationalised.”

Like the death toll, the number of journalists in detention has also fallen. The total of 326 journalists in prison on December 1, 2017 was 6 percent fewer than on the same date in 2016.

Despite the overall downward trend, there is an unusually high number of detained journalists in certain countries, in particular Russia and Morocco, that did not previously number among the worst jailers of professional journalists.

Nonetheless, around half of the total number of imprisoned journalists are being held in just five countries. China and Turkey are still the world’s two biggest prisons for journalists.

Finally, 54 journalists are currently held by armed non-state groups such as Islamic State and the Houthis in Yemen.

Almost three quarters of these hostages come from the ranks of local journalists, who are usually paid little and often have to take enormous risks. The foreign journalists currently held hostage were all kidnapped in Syria but little is known about their present location.

See the full round-up here

* These figures include professional journalists, non-professional journalists and media workers.

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Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific – an introduction

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific – an introduction

When the Pacific Media Centre was founded at AUT a decade ago in October 2007 — and launched by Laumanuvao Winnie Laban while she was Minister of Pacific Island Affairs – the region faced a turbulent era.

Fiji’s so-called “coup culture” had become entrenched by yet another coup in December 2006 by military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

However, this time it was not an ethnocentric putsch, but allegedly a “coup to end all coups” and in support of a multiracial future.

A six-month state of emergency period followed with many human rights violations. These breaches continued for the next eight years until a general election in 2014 – and beyond.

There were also concerns in Papua New Guinea over human rights violations, including police brutality and killing of suspects in law enforcement.

Relations were strained at the time between Solomon Islands and Australia over the Moti affair.

This was about an Australian lawyer Julian Moti who had been appointed to the post of Attorney-General, culminating in an Australian police raid on the Solomon Islands prime minister’s office.

In 2007, corruption, gender violence and other human rights violations were rife.

Arbitrary killings
In the wider Asia-Pacific region, arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings by elements of the security services and political killings, including of journalists, were already a major problem in the Philippines – but not anything like the scale of President Duterte era of today.

And in Timor-Leste, security forces carried out nine killings that year in 2007 – less than a third of the 29 the previous year – and there were human rights violations against journalists and other civilians.

These circumstances were fertile ground for the establishment of both the Pacific Media Centre here at AUT and its Pacific Media Watch media freedom project as one of the first research and publication initiatives established under the PMC umbrella.

The project was transferred to AUT’s PMC from the University of Papua New Guinea and University of Technology Sydney where it had been founded by ABC Four Corners investigative journalist Peter Cronau and me.

Billed as an independent, non-profit network reporting on media developments in and around New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region, the initiatives and work were inspired by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ) – which sadly closed in April this year after a quarter of a century of cutting edge investigative journalism.

Despite its limited resources, the Pacific Media Centre has contributed to greater diversity and more research and analysis of the region’s media over the past decade.

It has also worked closely with Reporters Sans Frontières in Paris, Freedom House in New York and other media freedom organisations.

As the credibility of neoliberalism and the quality of newspapers has eroded in Australia and New Zealand, universities and other non-profits are being increasingly seen as alternative backers for serious journalism.

Pacific Media Watch
Pacific Media Centre is regarded as an early example of such a venture, along with its early adopted project, Pacific Media Watch.

Another cornerstone of the Pacific Media Centre has been publication of Pacific Journalism Review, a Scopus-ranked international research journal that was launched originally at the University of Papua New Guinea and has now been published for 23 years.

At a conference at AUT in 2014 celebrating 20 years of publication, an academic analysis by Queensland University of Technology journalism coordinator Lee Duffield concluded that PJR “gives oxygen to campaigns that decry suppression of truth” and examines self-censorship by news media.

Pacific Media Watch has developed a strategy to challenge issues of ethics, media freedom, industry ownership, cross-cultural diversity and media plurality. It has been involved in reporting coups d’etat, civil conflict and media independence.

The service has been an important catalyst for journalists, media educators, citizen journalists and critical journalists collaborating in a broader trajectory of Pacific protest.

In 2015, PMW won the Faculty Dean’s award for a “critic and conscience of society” and it has won other awards.

Congratulations and thanks to the current PMW editor, Kendall Hutt, and all predecessors – Taberannang Korauaba, Josie Latu, Alex Perrottet, Daniel Drageset, Anna Majavu, Alistar Kata and TJ Aumua – for their contribution.

Spate of murders
In the Philippines, the extrajudicial killings crisis and the ongoing spate of murders of journalists has been an issue prominently reported on through the Pacific Media Watch project and the PMC’s news and current affairs website Asia Pacific Report.

Recently IFEX, the global media freedom exchange, summarised the current status of the trial of the accused in the Ampatuan massacre of 2009, in which 32 journalists were among the 58 people killed in a political ambush, by declaring: “Eight years, zero convictions.”

Threats to journalists in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power on 30 June 2016 have grown rapidly.

He unleashed his so-called “war on drugs” with an estimated death toll of more than 7000 to 9000 suspects, drug addicts and innocent people, so far – many of them children.

The recently ended three-month siege of Marawi City, also on Mindanao, has also been a tough time for journalists.

Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), and her team are among those few brave Filipino journalists and media researchers trying to expose the truth in a chilling environment.

Malou is a veteran of Philippine journalism. As well as her role with the PCIJ, she is host of the weekly public affairs programme Investigative Documentaries on GMA NewsTV.

Political detainee
She was once a university campus journalist. She was the first woman president of the Student Council at a state university where she completed her thesis on a portable typewriter while on the run from dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ military goons.

Malou was arrested and became a political detainee in 1980, yet still managed to finish her journalism degree with honours.

A fellow of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in 1998-99, Malou has worked as editor-in-chief of a national newspaper, radio programme host, executive producer of a TV debate programme.

She was also the first editor-in-chief of gmanews.tv online, while working as vice-president for research and content development of GMA news and public affairs.

Malou has conducted training on investigative reporting, data journalism, campaign finance, covering elections, and uncovering corruption for journalists in the Philippines and also in many places in Southeast Asia and Africa. This is her first visit to New Zealand.

I met Malou during a visit to the PCIJ in Manila on my sabbatical last year and I was subsequently at her presentation on the “war on drugs” at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day 2017 conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.

West Papua
Closer to home in the Pacific, but equally ignored by most of the New Zealand media, is the ongoing human rights crisis in the two Indonesian-ruled Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, which we generally group together as the region of West Papua.

It has been very difficult, even dangerous, for journalists to go to West Papua independently. Many have chosen to go there illegally as tourists and report under cover at great risk to themselves, and even greater risk to their sources.

Johnny Blades, a senior journalist of RNZ International, and his colleague Koroi Hawkins took advantage of incoming President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s celebrated “open door” policy to go there in October 2015.

They were the first New Zealand-based journalists in decades to visit there with a green light from the Jakarta bureaucracy.

Johnny is a presenter of Dateline Pacific and has written and reported extensively about the Pacific Islands, covering some of the most remote corners of this diverse region.

However, in recent years he has specialised in Melanesian affairs, a woefully under-reported part of the Pacific.

Today, December 1, is a very special day – it marks the first raising of the Morning Star, the flag of West Papuan self-determination in 1961. West Papuans have been seeking independence ever since.  

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3

Report by Pacific Media Centre

NZ urgently needs to take more Rohingya refugees

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: NZ urgently needs to take more Rohingya refugees

Protests against the Rohingya “genocide” have spread globally. With more than 1 million Ronhinga refugees in Bangladash, the authors argue that New Zealand needs to act now and take in more. Image: Clickittefaq

OPINION: By Sharon Harvey and Sorowar Chowdhury

The plight of the Rohingya people has hit the international headlines again. Following the August clashes in Rakhine State between Myanmar police and army and an armed opposition group, Myanmar has seen an accelerated exodus of Rohingya people into Bangladesh.

There are estimated to be about one million Rohingya in Bangladesh with between 500,000 to 700,000 left in Myanmar. Moreover, since the late 1970s, 350,000 Rohingya have fled to Pakistan, 200,000 to Saudi Arabia and 150,000 to Malaysia to escape persecution.

Others are in Thailand and countries of resettlement such as New Zealand and Australia.

The most recent situation is so tragic that a recent Times Higher Education article called for some of the world’s top universities to cease educational partnerships in Myanmar until human rights abuses, especially towards the Rohingya people have ceased.

Rohingya are Muslims living in Northern Rakhine State (formerly Arakan) in Myanmar (formerly Burma) who constitute an ethnic, linguistic and religious minority. They were stripped of citizenship in 1982 and, subsequently, have been the victims of severe discrimination and persecution.

For the last few years, there has been evidence of Rohingya risking their lives and fleeing Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh and other countries. In August this year, with the insurgence of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the Myanmar army began a “clearance operation”, characterised as “ethnic cleansing” by the United Nations, that lasted for several weeks.

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Amnesty International published a report on October 18 claiming the Myanmar Army operation which involved “widespread and unlawful killing” including rape and other sexual violence and the burning of Rohingya villages, constituted “serious human rights violations” and “crimes against humanity”.

Tragic situation
The situation is tragic and needs urgent international attention.

The underlying problem for the Rohingya people is that Myanmar refuses to accept they are a recognisable ethnic minority and therefore citizens of Myanmar.

While scholars are divided over the Rohingya’s earliest settlement in Rakhine, the 2017 Advisory Commission on Rakhine State led by former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan, maintained the Rohingya people are an integrated population of Muslims who have lived in Rakhine since at least the Kingdom of Mrauk U, the final Rakhine kingdom (1429-1775), and possibly 600 years earlier.

Others are 19th and 20th-century migrants from Bangladesh and West Bengal of India.

In any case, all Rohingya have been living in Rakhine state for at least several generations and many of them much, much longer. To put this into perspective, Rohingya have been living in Northern Rakhine in some cases perhaps before the Māori settlement of Aotearoa and at least as long as European settlement here.

Moreover, in light of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights conventions relating to statelessness (Article 3) and reduction of statelessness (Article 1), the Rohingya people are entitled to citizenship, their human rights should be upheld, and they are entitled to non-discrimination.

Above all, in no way ought they or anyone else be the victims of ethnic cleansing.

From the UNHCR’s perspective, there are three durable solutions for refugees: repatriation, local integration, and resettlement.

Since Bangladesh is already hosting close to a million Rohingya and is a low-middle income country, it may not be feasible to integrate all the new Rohingya who have fled Rakhine state since August.

Repatriation very slow
As for repatriation, Bangladesh and Myanmar recently agreed to form a joint working group by the end of November. However, with current documentation issues outstanding for the Rohingya, repatriation could take a very long time.

In the meantime, global leaders, including from the United States, European Union, and UN Security Council, have expressed extreme concern over the Rohingya situation. International pressure on Myanmar needs to be reinforced to expedite the repatriation.

Regarding resettlement, although Bangladesh did not ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol, it started a third-country resettlement programme in 2006 and this continued until the Bangladeshi government suspended it in November 2010.

However UNHCR, being the global refugee-resettling facilitator, may approach Bangladesh and mediate with refugee-resettling countries to open a special quota for the Rohingya and extend the opportunity to resettle them in third countries.

Because New Zealand is a refugee resettling country and some Rohingya have been successfully resettled here, New Zealand needs to urgently create provision for a special intake of Rohingya refugees, as it has done recently for the Syrian refugees.

The new government has the opportunity to demonstrate its credibility to the world by extending compassion to a community in deep crisis and thereby upholding Labour’s election slogan “Let’s do this”.

Associate Professor Sharon Harvey is head of the school of language and culture at Auckland University of Technology. Sorowar Chowdhury, a PhD student from Bangladesh, is researching the resettlement of Rohingya in New Zealand. This article has been republished by Asia Pacific Report with the permission of the authors and was originally published by The New Zealand Herald.

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