“The ban highlights the lingering limits on free speech in our country and the continued attempts to censor our story of resistance against gross human rights violations,” claimed Paga Hill community leader and lawyer Joe Moses, the main character in The Opposition film who had to seek exile in the United Kingdom after fighting for his community’s rights.
“This censorship comes as a deep disappointment for my community who have suffered greatly over the past six years.”
The Opposition tells the David-and-Goliath battles of a community evicted, displaced, abandoned – their homes completely demolished at the hands of two Australian-run companies, Curtain Brothers and Paga Hill Development Company, and the PNG state.
What was once home to 3000 people of up to four generations, Paga Hill is now part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit “AELM Precinct” which will take place this November.
The PNG Human Rights Film Festival. Image: Programme screenshot
Moses said: “We appreciate the PNG Human Rights Film Festival for choosing to screen The Opposition film at their Madang and Port Moresby screenings.
“It is shameful that our government continues to limit free speech and put such pressure on our country’s only annual arts and human rights event. How does this make us look to the world leaders who will be coming here for the APEC meeting in November?”
‘Speak up today’ Under the theme “Tokautnau long senisim tumora” (Speak up today to change tomorrow) the mission of the PNG Human Rights Film Festival includes: “We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights”.
The international and local human rights films screened “promote increased respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights in Papua New Guinea”.
Paga Hill youth leader Allan Mogerema, who also features in the film said: “The right to freedom of speech and freedom of press is provided for under Section 46 of the PNG Constitution. By banning our story, the PNG government is in breach of our Constitution and our rights as Papua New Guinean citizens.”
The Opposition trailer.
As a human rights defender, Mogerema has been invited to the 2018 Annual Human Rights and People’s Diplomacy Training Programme for Human Rights Defenders from the Asia-Pacific Region and Indigenous Australia organised by the Diplomacy Training Programme (DTP) and the Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP) to share his story of the illegal land grab, eviction and demolition of his community.
“The film has already been screened in settlements across PNG and at the Human Rights Film Festival’s Madang screenings. No matter how hard they try to censor us, our story continues to live, and our fight for justice continues to thrive,” added Mogerema.
“No matter how long it takes, our community will get justice.”
Dame Carol Kidu is also featured in The Opposition film. Initially an advocate for the Paga Hill community, Dame Carol turned her back on them by setting up a consultancy to be hired by the Paga Hill Development Corporation, on a contract of $178,000 for three months’ work.
In 2017, she launched a legal action in the Supreme Court of NSW to censor the film. In June that year, the court ruled against Dame Carol’s application.
Frontline Insight: The Paga Hill struggle. Video: Reuters Foundation
The trailer for Eka Saputri’s film Melawan Arus. Video: Komunitas Kedung
By Joko Santoso in Purbalingga
A short film by a student whose family were victims of the 1965 anti-communist purge in Indonesia has won best fictional film at the 2018 Purbalingga Film Festival.
The film titled Against the Current (Melawan Arus) was directed by Eka Saputri and produced by the Kebumen 1 State Vocational School.
Facilitated by the Ministry of Education and Culture’s (Kemdikbud) Cinematography Development Centre (Pusbangfilm), the film tells the story of a man and wife defending their rights to their land despite being branded “decadents” of the banned Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Yono, the husband, has lost his spirit to defend the land which is being disputed with the authorities. He suggests to his wife Siti that they move.
Siti however who is strong in her convictions remains living in the house squatting on the land. The 10-minute film researches a land conflict in Urut Sewu, Kebumen.
According to one member of the fictional film jury, Teguh Trianton, Against the Current succeeds getting views to explore the psychological aspects of the issue.
“The film leaves viewers contemplating deeply and leaves behind questions the answers to which can be found outside of the film,” sauidTrianton.
“We hope that our film can inspire views through the courage of community farmers in Urut Sewu in defending their right to land,” said director Eka Saputri.
Best documentary The best documentary category was won by Sum by director Firman Fajar Wiguna and produced by the Purbalingga 2 State Vocational School.
The 15-minute film tells the story of a woman named Suminah, a former Indonesian Peasants Union (BTI, affiliated with the PKI) activist.
After being jailed for 13 years, Sum lives in solitude. She continues to wait for things to take a turn for the better.
According to the documentary jury board’s notes, the film Sum was put together through selected esthetic pictures and a sequence of clear informational narratives.
“As an endeavor at visual communication, this film enriches the national historical language through a grass-roots perspective and the victims who were impacted upon by the excesses of political struggles at the national level,” explained one of the jury members, Adrian Jonathan Pasaribu.
The favorite fictional film category was won by the film Banner (Umbul-Umbul) directed by Atik Alvianti and produced by the Purwareja Banjarnegara Group Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) 2 Vocational School.
Viewers’ favourite In the favorite documentary film category meanwhile, viewers sided with Unseen Legacy (Warisan Tak Kasat Mata), directed by Sekar Fazhari from the Bukateja Purbalingga State senior high school.
The Lintang Kemukus award for Banyumas Raya maestro of the arts and culture was awarded to R. Soetedja (1909-1960), a composer from Banyumas, and the Kamuajo Musical Group was awarded the Lintang Kemukus category of contemporary arts and culture.
Purbalingga regent Dyah Hayuning Pratiwi, SE, B. Econ who attended the highpoints of the FFP event, said that the Purbalingga regency government was committed to supporting cinematographic activities and the film festival in Purbalingga.
“Aside from being an arena for friendly gatherings, cinematographic activities are also an arena to improve respective regency’s reputations and prestige,” he said.
Lae landowners have given the papua New Guinean government seven days to review existing agreements or they will close the disputed tuna fish canneries. Video: EMTV News
By Scott Waide in Lae
Landowning clans in the Papua New Guinean city of Lae are threatening to close down five fish processing plants if the government does not review the existing agreements that govern them.
The clans, which include the Ahi and the Busulum, say they have been cheated of development benefits.
Since the agreements were signed four years ago, they have received K5000 a year for the five portions of land they own.
The threat comes after three years of complicated wrangling with the government and the companies over landowner benefits.
If the landowners have it their way, Majestic Seafoods, Frabelle and three other fish processing factories will be forced to shut down next Tuesday.
Landowner company BUP Development is calling on the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) to review the existing agreements so that they receive more in terms of landowner benefits.
Bad deal After four years, it has now become clear, landowners got a bad deal.
The landowners are paid a total of K5000 (NZ$2225) annually for the five land portions they leased to the companies. The deal was negotiated by the provincial administration at the start of the projects.
Apart from a K2 million (NZ$890,000) premium payment made several years ago, the landowners receive little else.
They are also not party to agreements between the state and the fish processing companies.
They also do not know what the terms of the state agreement are.
The landowner company since issued a 7-day notice to the government to come to Lae for negotiations.
They are demanding K20 million in compensation as well as a review of the memorandum of agreement they signed with the companies.
Scott Waide is EMTV’s Lae bureau chief and began his career with the television station in 1997 as a news and sports reporter and anchor. He has won several awards for his journalism. This article is republished with permission.
Headline: Yogyakarta airport developers warned not to ‘steal’ people’s land
A police officer looks on as workers of state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I bulldoze a building in the vicinity of Glagah village to make room for the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) in Kulonprogro, Yogyakarta on Friday. Image: Bambang Muryanto/The Jakarta Post
By Bambang Muryanto in Yogyakarta
Indonesia’s National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has demanded that state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I consider human rights aspects while working on the construction of a new airport in Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta.
The project should be free from human rights breaches, in particular when it comes to land ownership, the organisation said.
“Please, do not steal the citizen’s lands in the name of infrastructure development,” said Komnas HAM commissioner Choirul Anam.
Choirul added that he had received reports from local activists claiming that people of Glagah village were being forced by the company and police to give up their land.
Thirty of some 2700 families living on the disputed land reportedly insist on staying in their homes. Choirul suggested the company engage in dialogue with the people to find a solution.
“This is not only about land ownership; the eviction also threatens the people’s culture and social wellbeing,” he said, noting that violence could create even more problems.
Meanwhile, PT Angkasa Pura, through the manager of the New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) construction project, Sudjiastono, claimed it had done everything in line with the law on land procurement for public utilities construction.
According to the regulation, he added, the company was allowed to forcibly evict people who refused to give up their land in return for compensation through the court.
“We’ve respected the people’s rights by giving them compensation, more than they deserve to get,” he said.
Bambang Muryanto is Yogyakarta correspondent of The Jakarta Post.
Headline: Gideon Levy: New Zealand, one state for two nations
ANALYSIS:By Gideon Levy in Auckland
Late-morning light bathed the landscape in bold colors. It’s early summer here, and the sun was already very strong, broiling. It’s also the season in which the pohutukawa trees burst into crimson blossoms along the roadside.
The view from the heights of this Auckland suburb of Orakei is breathtaking, like almost every place in the beautiful country of New Zealand: an azure bay, endless green meadows, homes, boats and of course sheep.
Only a few skyscrapers spoil the horizon, on the other side of the bay.
The sound of birdsong sliced through the silence. An Australian magpie was perched on a structure atop a hill, singing a song unlike any I’d ever heard in my life. The landscape was equally inimitable. The colours of the magpie, black and white, blended with the black and white of the structure, which serves as a marker for ships at sea.
Soon another magpie arrived, and the two began singing to each other, a serenade for two magpies, a hypnotic duet, before flying away.
Unavoidably, Israeli poet Nathan Zach’s “A Second Bird” leaped to mind: “A bird of such wondrous beauty I shall never see again / Until the day I die.”
Father of social welfare On the slope below, close to the waterline, is the tomb of New Zealand’s 23rd prime minister, Michael Joseph Savage, with a large stone obelisk rising over it. Savage, who served as the country’s first-ever Labour prime minister, from 1935 to 1940, is considered to be the father of its social-welfare policy.
He was laid to rest here in 1940, at Bastion Point on the coast, a gesture of esteem for someone who became a beloved figure to his nation. “The New Zealander of the century,” The New Zealand Herald called him.
But the hill above the grave site of the adored premier is fraught with a more recent, different and painful history. Forty years ago, hundreds of people barricaded themselves here for 506 days. They were Māori from the Ngahi Whatua tribe, and were joined by white human-rights activists who came to show solidarity with them in what was called an “occupation” but was actually a liberation.
It was an indigenous display of protest and independence, revolving around ownership of the land on which we were now standing, above Bastion Point. The so-called occupation lasted from January 5, 1977, until May 25, 1978, when the protesters were evicted, ending 17 months of a determined civilian, nonviolent struggle.
Some 230 people were arrested during the eviction, but no one was hurt. The event became a milestone in New Zealand history.
A television report broadcast here on that May day when the occupiers were evacuated carries the voices and the images. On film, the site looks more like Woodstock than like Umm al-Hiran, the Bedouin town in the Negev where a villager and an Israeli policeman were killed last January.
In the footage, hundreds of unarmed New Zealand police and soldiers are seen quietly removing the demonstrators, who had camped here for almost a year and a half in order to restore the land to its Māori owners. No blood is shed, no violence erupts; there’s only singing and weeping.
Model of nonviolence The activists later claimed that the police had orders to open fire at them, but that didn’t happen: The officers were unarmed throughout the eviction. The reporter likened the convoy of police vehicles arriving at the site to a military convoy in World War II, no less, but to Israeli eyes, which have seen violent evictions in the Negev and in the territories, the Bastion Point incident is a model of nonviolence and civil resistance.
The only fatality was little Joanne, a 5-year-old Māori girl who died in a blaze caused by a heating stove that the protesters on the hill lit on a cold winter night in one of the makeshift structures they lived in – tents, trailers and huts.
Near the place where she died, on the lower slope of the hill, stands a memorial to Joanne Hawke – a Māori sculpture and a commemorative sign that tells her story.
The Negev Bedouin have reason to be envious of the Māori achievements and of the solidarity that some of the white European population, known as Pakeha in the Māori language, have demonstrated for them. In the end, the land in question was returned to its Māori owners, even though they are not permitted to build on it.
Bastion Point is now the greenest hill in the vicinity of Auckland, a nature reserve and a national heritage site for the country’s indigenous people. Atop the hill today is a small Māori village with well-kept homes in a uniform style, among them the house of the leader of that protest 40 years ago, Joseph Hawke, the uncle of Joanne. He was a two-term Labour member of Parliament, serving until 2002, and is now a homebody. His son, Parata Hawke, told us the story of the hilltop protest his father led. He was a boy then, and thought his dad was taking him on a picnic.
The younger Hawke, a social activist who has nine daughters, is a handsome man in his fifties, head shaved with only a ponytail in the back, adorned with a traditional wooden ornament. Barefoot and wearing shorts, Parata Hawke first speaks in the Māori language before switching to English. His family’s original surname was Haka, but his father anglicised it, like many other Māori.
The television in the guest room in his parents’ home, where he’s now staying, is tuned to Al Jazeera in English. He serves his guests homemade bread with butter. A magnificent Māori singer, named Paitangi, with a tattooed chin, will accompany him in her powerful voice, at a solidarity rally with the Palestinian people (where I was speaking).
Collection of Māori weapons Parata Hawke is active in that movement and is well informed about events in the Middle East. He has a collection of ancient Māori wooden weapons, including a 300-year-old spear, which he forbids strangers to touch.
Roger Fowler, who was active in New Zealand’s large-scale movement against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, was present during the entire “occupation”. He married his Māori bride, Lyn Doherty, on the hill in the midst of the protest. In recent years he’s been a vigorous and determined activist for Palestinian rights.
Last weekend he took part in a demonstration of hundreds of people outside the American consulate in the city, against the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. When the Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er took part in a tournament in Auckland some years ago, Fowler threw a tennis ball onto the court in an attempt to disrupt the match.
He also took part in a raucous demonstration against the apartheid regime in South Africa when that country’s rugby team played at Eden Park, Auckland’s largest rugby stadium, in 1981. It was the South African team’s last game in New Zealand before the regime changed. And speaking of rugby – every match here begins with the haka, the Māori war dance.
About 750,000 residents of New Zealand are Māori, 17 percent of the population. In most realms of life, the Arab citizens of Israel, whose proportion within the population is roughly the same, can only envy them. There are no Māori ghettos, Māori are well integrated into society, mixed marriages are a matter of routine, and at Auckland’s international airport visitors are greeted by typical Māori artwork and murals. There are also five Māori universities in New Zealand.
Nevertheless, Parata Hawke says that his people are still in the midst of a battle for their land, their heritage and their national honour. It’s a war of attrition, he says.
“They stole our land and killed our people,” he explains, “and until the occupation of the hill, no one even talked about it.” For the Palestinians, he suggests nonviolent resistance. “If we take another route, we’ll lose.”
Elections defeat The Māori Party sustained a defeat in the last election, in September, not managing to get even one seat at the House of Representatives, the country’s legislature, which, like Israel’s, has 120 members; most Māori vote Labour. But Winston Peters, the deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the new centre-left Labour-Green-NZ First government, is the son of a Māori father and a mother of Scottish origin.
The road to having an Arab foreign minister in Israel is still very long.
The foreign minister of New Zealand’s “big sister”, Australia, is not an aboriginal. Julie Bishop is white, industrious and ambitious. She receives the guest from Israel warmly and courteously in her office in the Parliament building in Canberra. She even plies the stranger who has come to meet her with gifts: stuffed kangaroo and koala bear toys.
Our conversation takes place off the record, but her position on the Palestinian issue wouldn’t shame any Israeli right-wing leader. It’s easy to see why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu felt so comfortable on his visit to Australia last February. Hard-right MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) would feel equally at home here.
Australia’s Jewish lobby wields dramatic influence. Almost every new MP is invited on an “informational” trip to Israel, along with many journalists. And signs of the Israeli propaganda machine are hard to miss here.
Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr, who has changed his views since leaving office, also points to the large donations that Jewish activists make to the two big parties when explaining Australia’s one-sided approach.
Carr is one of the few politicians in Australia to have a balanced approach to Israel and the Palestinians, who is not a member of the Greens.
Coalition anomaly Mark Coulton, deputy speaker of Australia’s House of Representatives, a member of the National Party that is part of the ruling centre-right coalition, is an anomaly here. He tells us that he returned a few months ago from a visit to the occupied territories – very different from what is seen on the Israeli information tours – and has since become one of the independent, exceptional voices in the House against the Israeli occupation.
Coulton, himself a farmer, was especially shocked by the attitude of the occupation authorities toward Palestinian agriculture. He won’t forget the farmers he met from the Qalqilyah area of the West Bank who can’t access their land because it’s on the wrong side of the security barrier, or the shortage of water they suffer – in contrast to the abundance of water in the Jewish settlements – and the butchered olive trees.
In Australia, in any event, the Israeli occupation can go on celebrating. Its only opponents, pretty much, are the Greens.
Beautiful Australia, with its beaches and its affable people, is occupied with other matters. A major furore erupted here recently when it emerged that some members of the House and the Senate hold dual citizenship, sometimes even without being aware of it. Now they have to resign.
On the margins of that storm there were also some who asked about the question of dual loyalty of Australia’s Jews, although that question did not come up for public debate. The Jewish establishment there can go on activating its effective, aggressive pro-Israel lobby without interruption. “Israel, right or wrong,” is its slogan, I’m told.
All of that is forgotten as though it’s air on Karekare Beach, about an hour’s drive from Auckland. The sand here is black with bits of glittering iron; the landscape is rocky and wild. This is where Jane Campion’s film The Piano, with its unforgettable landscapes, was filmed.
Now, in early summer, the beach is empty. Here, on the shores of the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand, opposite the cliff and the rocks, the waves and the black sand, almost everything is forgotten amid nature’s ravishing beauty.
Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. He joined Haaretz in 1982, and has won many awards. He recently visited Australia and New Zealand on a lecture tour.