‘Don’t be silent,’ says defiant Maria Ressa in fight for press freedom

Rappler publisher condemns Duterte government’s “abuse of power”. Video: ABS-CBN

By Iris Gonzales in Manila

The Philippine press has seen many dark days but Maria Ressa’s arrest this week is among the worst.

It signals dangerous times for our country’s democracy, 33 years since it was restored in 1986.

Ressa is a veteran journalist who founded the news website Rappler – and a thorn in the side of President Rodrigo Duterte.

READ MORE: Journalist’s arrest in Philippines sparks demonstrations, fears of a wider crackdown

The feisty journalist, hailed as Time Person of the Year for 2018, was arrested around 5 pm on Wednesday, February 13, by officers of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Maria Ressa … “You have to be outraged like what I’m doing now.” Image: Maria Ressa FB

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The arrest warrant was issued by a local court the day before in connection with a “cyber-libel” case filed by the Philippine Department of Justice against Ressa and former Rappler researcher Reynaldo Santos Jr.

The case relates to a story published in May 2012. However, the cyber libel law the story allegedly violated was enacted in September 2012 – some four months later.

The Justice Department filed the case following a complaint lodged by business person Wilfredo Keng, whom Rappler identified in an article as having alleged links to illegal drugs and human trafficking, based on intelligence reports.

‘Abuse of power’
Ressa described her indictment and arrest this week as an “abuse of power” and “weaponisation of the law” against a citizen. She had to spend a night at the NBI office because her warrant was served at 5 pm – a time when government offices were already closed, making it impossible for Ressa to post bail.

The following day she was granted temporary liberty, after posting a P100,000 (US$1900) bail bond at a Manila court.

“These legal acrobatics show how far the government will go to silence journalists, including the pettiness of forcing me to spend the night in jail,” she said.

While Keng had every right to seek redress in the courts, Ressa’s arrest indicates a readiness of government officials to use their power and weaponise the law to go after individuals they perceive as enemies or threats.

Every journalist or critic of the administration is vulnerable. Every action which the government may not like may be put under scrutiny and brought to court.

Let us not forget that President Duterte’s critic, Senator Leila de Lima, is still in jail because of trumped up drug-related charges.

This time, it’s Ressa who is being harassed by the government. But she won’t take it sitting down.

‘Be outraged’
“I’m saying and I’m appealing to you not to be silent, especially if you’re next. You have to be outraged like what I’m doing now,” she said minutes after posting bail.

In a statement, Rappler warned: “No one is safe.”

Apart from cyber-libel, Ressa and Rappler are facing five tax cases. In December 2018, Ressa posted bail twice over alleged violation of the Tax Code. Rappler has also faced revocation of its corporate registration papers by the Securities and Exchange Commission

But, headed by some of the country’s best investigative journalists, Rappler said it would not be cowed by attempts at intimidation and vowed to continue its journalistic duties. ‘We will continue to tell the truth and report what we see and hear. We are first and foremost journalists.’

Ressa’s case will come up in March but her lawyer JJ Disini said they would file a motion to quash and question the information regarding the cyber libel case filed against his client.

The Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, a group of journalists, bloggers and other cause-oriented individuals, has condemned what happened and strongly denounced the continuing harassment of Ressa.

“Her arrest,” it said, “is a betrayal of the guarantees of press freedom and freedom of expressed enshrined in the Constitution. More, its callous execution is an indictment of a weakened justice system; its devious grounds a dangerous fabrication that affects not just journalists, but everyone.”

The international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have also denounced Ressa’s arrest as “an outrage”.

What happened to Ressa can happen to anyone in my country. Every freedom-loving Filipino must realize this and should stand up against any action that will curtail our freedom as individuals.

As Rappler says, we must all hold the line.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change documentary about Kiribati wins top FIFO prize

Anote’s Ark trailer

By RNZ Pacific

A Canadian film about climate change in Kiribati and the Pacific has won the top prize at the 16th Pacific Documentary Film Festival in French Polynesia.

The film, Anote’s Ark by Matthieu Rytz, looked at the plight of Kiribati and former President Anote Tong who championed the Pacific human rights struggle over climate change.

Tong was president of his country between 2003 and 2016.

READ MORE: The FIFO 2019 film festival

The special prize of the jury went to Island of the Hungry Ghosts from Austrian director Gabrielle Brady.

-Partners-

The prize of the public went to a local production Patutiki, the art of tattooing of the Marquesas Islands by Heretu Tetahiotupa and Christophe Cordier.

About 30,000 people attended the week-long event in the Tahitian capital of Pape’ete.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

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At least 20 killed as two bomb blasts hit Jolo Cathedral in Philippines

Bombs minutes apart tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, in the southern Philippines region of Mindanao at the weekend. Video: Philippine Daily Inquirer

By Rambo Talabong and Mara Cepeda in Jolo, Philippines

At least 20 people were killed as two explosions rocked the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu, yesterday, just days after the historic Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) was ratified paving the way for self-rule by the Muslim majority region.

This revised death toll, sent to reporters last night, comes hours after Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares earlier reported a death toll of 27.

In his latest update, Mijares said the following died in yesterday’s Jolo Cathedral bombing:

  • 14 civilians
  • 5 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
  • 1 from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)

READ MORE: Military will ‘crush’ Jolo attackers

Soldiers and civilians are among the dead and wounded in twin explosions that rocked the cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, on Sunday. Image: PTV Twitter

Mijares also said at least 111 individuals were wounded:

  • 90 civilians
  • 17 from the AFP
  • 2 from the PCG
  • 2 from the Philippine National Police (PNP)

-Partners-

Casualties evacuated
The ARMM regional police said casualties “were immediately evacuated” as the AFP and the PNP secured the area.

The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) earlier said two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were used to bomb the cathedral.

According to the ARMM regional police, one IED exploded inside the cathedral, and another at the entrance.

PNP spokesperson Senior Superintendent Bernard Banac said that the second explosion happened as AFP personnel responded to the first explosion.

The people of Sulu province, which includes the city of Jolo, narrowly voted against the Bamsamoro law, although it was supported by 85 percent of the vote overall in the provinces and districts taking part in the referendum.

Malacañang and top government officials condemned the twin bombings.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo vowed that the military would “crush” the perpetrators of the bombing and several politicians also extended their condolences to the victims’ families and called for justice to be served.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are already on heightened alert and have vowed to “thoroughly investigate” the bloody incident.

Rambo Talabong and Mara Cepeda report for Rappler news portal.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Typhoon Usman and nightmarish Christmas holiday times in Bicol

Flooding of ricefields and villager homes beside the causeway between Vinzons and Labo in Camarines Norte, Bicol region, during Typhoon Usman on 29 December 2018. Video: Café Pacific

By David Robie

It was nerve wracking, and at times really scary. The wind howled and bowled over grown trees, the rain fell in a continuous deluge, and electricity was cut for the best part of three days.

Vinzons, a small town of about 44,000 people in a remote corner of mountainous Bicol in the Philippines, was “marooned”.

The ricefields to the north and west and south of the town were flooded, the Labo River had broken its banks and the Pacific Ocean was encroaching to the east.

Once was a rice field … a flooded area beside the Labo causeway, swollen by the Labo River and looking like the open sea. Image: David Robie/PMC

Our Christmas present – Typhoon Usman – had turned us into a virtual island.

Typhoon Usman … daily media reports of death and destruction, but Vinzons was largely cut off for communications.

People turned up my wife’s sister’s home with horror stories. Flooded in the middle of the night. Awakened by floodwaters lapping at their bedside. Waist deep in water.

-Partners-

And the fears of electrocution were very real.

Rumours were rife of deaths in the Vinzons district.

The 360 km road from Manila to Vinzons through the rugged Bicol mountains. Map: Google

Communications blackout
But it was hard to get accurate and verified information with a communications blackout. Internet was down. No television and cellphone reception difficult.

Our planned trip to the impressive Mayon volcano, 206 km southwards past Naga was cancelled. We would never have made it.


Flooding at the bridge to Magcawayan school … after the waters had dropped. Video: Café Pacific

What was really happening? I called in at the local community radio station, Radyo Katabang 107.7FM, tucked away in a rooftop shack.

However, it was Christmas time and although the radio was on an emergency generator, the skeleton staff were relying on networked programming from Manila, 360 km away on the Pan-Philippine Highway – itself blocked by massive road slips.

Technician Michael Sarical holds the fort at community Radio Katabang. Image: David Robie/PMC

I drove around with my wife’s lawyer nephew in a “Judiciary”-plated four-wheel-drive vehicle to get a sense of the devastation in the district.

A small military detachment – a truck and soldiers – arrived to guard the emergency rice supplies and other foodstuffs as they were being dispensed by volunteers at the Vinzons Town Hall.

Soldiers awaiting orders at the Vinzons Town Hall. Image: David Robie/PMC

By December 30, the typhoon – now downgraded to a “tropical depression” (still very depressing, actually) – had eased and children were out in droves playing in the flooded streets in spite of the risks.


“Fun” on the flooded Vinzons streets. Video: Café Pacific

Plugged into news
And we were now plugged into the newscasts again. It wasn’t quite as bad as we had thought – only one death in Vinzons (out of a total of 122 across Bicol, the island of Samar and the Central Visayas).

Volunteers at the Vinzons Town Hall prepare relief food packs for evacuees. Image: David Robie/PMC

At least 57 of the dead were from Camarines Sur province, mostly from a landslide in the town of Sagnay, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

At least 18 of the dead were from Albay, 15 from Camarines Norte (our province), eight from Sorsogon and seven from Masbate.

Of the 23 missing people – presumed dead, 20 were from Camarines Sur, and three from Tiwi, Albay.

Bicol relief officials also said nearly 31,000 people had sought shelter in six evacuation centres.

One Municipal Social Welfare Development (MSWD) official I spoke to in Vinzons, Irine Cribe del Rio, said a total of 641 families (2185 people), had been sheltered during the storm, mostly at Vinzons Elementary School.

Clean-up time in a Vinzons market shop. Image: David Robie/PMC

Crops devastated
Although they went back to their homes – if still standing – their freshly planted rice fields and livelihoods were devastated.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty, reports The Guardian.

The most powerful was Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7360 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in 2013.

Yet, remarkably, in spite of the hardships the community is full of smiles and laughter.

David Robie and his wife, Del, were on holiday in the Vinzons town of Bicol when the typhoon struck. They assist a local school through a support project.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Sacked head of Timor-Leste state broadcaster claims ‘political axe’

Ousted Timorese RTTL television chief fought hard to prevent political pressure on his journalists. Video: RTTLEP

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The former president of of Timor-Leste’s public television network says he has been sacked for political reasons.

Gil da Costa was removed this month from the post of chairperson of the board of directors of Timor-Leste Radio and Television (RTTL) following an audit undertaken by the government – and he had no knowledge of the result.

He has told the Portuguese news agency Lusa that his removal from office – which he first learned about on the news – was a political decision following the audit that was led by his successor.

Ousted: Gil da Costa found out about his sacking through the news media. Image: RTTL

“I heard from the news that I had been ousted. They did not even talk to me before or about any problem that existed,” Gil da Costa told Lusa yesterday.

Da Costa alleged that he was removed after the audit whose results he never knew without any prior information from the government and without even having the opportunity to be heard or give any explanation.

-Partners-

“It was definitely a political decision”, considering it “serious” the fact that his removal happened after the audit mandated by the Secretary of State for the Media (SECOMS), Merício dos Reis, and conducted in October by Francisco da Silva who became his successor and took office today.

“The appointment of my successor is political. They use alleged mismanagement and alleged irregularities to fire me, but whoever replaced me was the person who led the audit process,” Da Costa said.

Audit credibility
“And I do not even know if the audit has credibility. I have not even seen the results yet.”

Gil da Costa also also said he had acted directly to stop attempts at political interference in the newsroom, a “common” practice in the past and attempts were made to do this during his tenure at RTTL.

“There have been several attempts at political interference on me and directly on journalists to try to influence editorial content,” he said.

“As head of RTTL I always insisted that I wanted it to be an independent institution without political interference. And I’ve tried to do this. And there was a lot of political interference,” he said.

The sacking decision was made known to the public and himself in a short notice from the government at the meeting of the Council of Ministers on January 9, which did not even mention his name, Lusa reports.

Appointed: Francisco da Silva took office today. Image: RTTL

“The government approved the proposal for a Government Resolution on the dismissal of the current chairperson of the board of directors of Timor-Leste Radio and Television, and the appointment of the new chairperson of the board of directors of Timor-Leste Radio and Television, EP , Francisco da Silva on the proposal of the Secretary of State for the Media, Merício dos Reis,” the statement said.

Despite several attempts, Lusa was not able to obtain a comment from Secretary dos Reis.

Fretilin appointment
Gil da Costa was appointed to the position of RTTL president by a government resolution approved on January 25, 2018, replacing Milena Abrantes, who ended her four-year term that same month.

Asked whether his nomination – by the previous Fretilin-led minority government – had been political and therefore he had now been dismissed, Gil da Costa rejected this suggestion, claiming that he had accumulated “great professional experience” and fought to avoid “political interference”.

“I worked for many years with international agencies. And I may have been appointed by the Fretilin government but I did not obey Fretlin. The RTTL is from the state, not from the government. It is an institution of the state, not the government,” he said.

To avoid delays in wages, “I made the decision to use RTTL’s own revenue in advertising”.

“RTTL has been out of money for six months. And I don’t understand why,” he said.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific voices tell stories of climate change reality in new documentary

A new documentary Subject to Change, a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific, explores the impact of climate change. Video: MFAT

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Two young women students are the driving force who created a new documentary titled Subject to Change which highlights the climate change challenges faced by Pacific people in the region.

Among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts, Pacific voices are at the heart of the film which has been premiered at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion.

Producer Amiria Ranfurly, who is of Niuean-New Zealand descent, and Polish director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska, are students of Massey University of New Zealand.

READ MORE: AUT’s Bearing Witness climate change project

The young women chose to showcase climate change in their work because of the impact in the region.

-Partners-

“We wanted to explore the impacts that climate change is having on our world, and Subject to Change is a documentary film that presents a collection of interviews and personal stories from across the Pacific,” says Ranfurly.

“With passion and determination, we have created a film that shares insight to New Zealand’s response to the global objectives set by the Paris Agreement, alongside intimate stories from the frontline in a truthful and evocative way.”

Documentary producer Amiria Ranfurly (left) and director Wiktoria Ojrzyńska … “intimate frontline climate stories”. Image: COP24 Pacific

Director Ojrzyńska says: “Directing Subject to Change was an amazing storytelling experience, during which I worked with many inspirational people and gained experience across different aspects of filmmaking.”

Collaboration project
Subject to Change
is a collaboration between Massey University and NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).

Present to launch the film at the premiere was the Ambassador and Climate Change Special Adviser of the Government of New Zealand, with special guest speaker Inia Seruiratu, COP23 High Level Climate Champion of Global Climate Action, and Minister for Defence and National Security of Fiji who introduced the Director and the Producer of the film.

“Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific,” said Ambassador Stephanie Lee. “Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described the climate change challenge as the Nuclear-Free Movement of our generation.”

“We have heard about the IPCC 1.5 degrees report and we already knew that it really underlines this challenge as an urgent one. The documentary you are about to see embodies that sense of challenge, but it also embodies a sense of hope,” said Ambassador Lee.

The documentary featured and drew strongly on the perspective of the Fijian people, particularly of those of the small island of Batiki with a population of around 300 people that was hit hardest by Cyclone Winston in February, 2017.

Inia Seruiratu thanked the NZ government and Massey University for supporting the documentary, as well as New Zealand’s support and partnership on the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion where the premiere was being held.

Speaking about his experience as a Pacific islander, Seruiratu thanked the producer, director and the team behind the documentary for producing a powerful medium with which the voices of the vulnerable could be heard.

“People need to see and experience visually the realities others such as those in the Pacific are facing in order to better understand. And this is why this documentary is so important and serves as a great tool,” said Seruiratu.

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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

-Partners-

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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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.

-Partners-

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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‘Business as usual’ vows Parkop after storming of PNG Parliament, rioting

The National Parliament of Papua New Guinea came under attack yesterday as angry police and corrections officers stormed into Parliament Haus and destroyed the main entrance.  Video: EMTV News

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

National District Governor Powes Parkop has pledged that it will be business as usual today in the Papua New Guinean capital of Port Moresby as normalcy has been restored in the city after yesterday’s rioting, looting and an assault on Parliament.

Parkop declared this after meeting members of the Security Force, together with National Parliament Speaker Job Pomat, Minister for Finance James Marape, Minister for Police Jelta Wong, and other ministers yesterday afternoon at Sir John Guise Stadium in Waigani, reports Loop PNG.

Security forces protested over the lack of payment of security allowances for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit last week by storming Parliament Haus in Waigani and causing damage.

READ MORE: Army ‘not involved’ in storming of PNG Parliament

Port Moresby looting captured by Camara Geita on Twitter yesterday. Image: PMC screenshot

This triggered off rioting in parts of the city and looting in shops.

-Partners-

“Government has agreed to settle the allowances as soon as possible and we all agreed to return to duties to restore calm and normalcy to the city with immediate effect!”

Parkop said the issue of allowances for officers providing security during the APEC meeting is being resolved by the national government and relevant agencies.

He said that K10 million (NZ4.4 million) was released yesterday and was being processed to be disbursed as soon as possible.


A live feed fof shooting, looting and rioting in Port Moresby yesterday. Video: Camara Geita/Twitter

‘Purely administrative’
“This is a matter that is purely administrative.

“Schools should return to normal, shops should open and offices and business should operate as normal instantly. There is no cause for concern or worry.

“I call on everyone not to rely on rumours and fake news to cause an alarm and incite fear unnecessarily.

“The event was regrettable but it’s under control and there is no reason to be fearful anymore.”

Yesterday, business houses, schools and shops closed early due to the looting that occurred at different parts of the city, reports EMTV News.

This followed the rampage at the Parliament by frustrated Joint Security Task Force members over the non-payment of their APEC allowance.


The APEC pay dispute and why the PNG police protested. Video: EMTV News

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Former PM Sir Mekere blasts ‘lavish staging’ and ‘ridicule’ of APEC

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters announces a K22 million (NZ$10 million) aid project to help polio vaccination for Papua New Guineans at the St John Ambulance Operations Centre in Port Moresby. Video: EMTV News

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A former prime minister has accused Papua New Guinea’s current leader Peter O’Neill of exposing the country to “international ridicule and criticism” over the lavish staging of APEC and failure of the meeting to make the customary Leaders’ Declaration for the first time in its history.

Sir Mekere Morauta, MP for Moresby North West in the nation’s capital, today declared in a statement: “APEC has revealed to the world the corruption, waste and mismanagement within the O’Neill government, and their devastating effects on the nation and citizens.”

He said the leaders summit had shone an international spotlight on O’Neill’s “crude and cynical attempts to play one nation against another”.

READ MORE: PNG security forces strike at Parliament for unpaid APEC allowances

Sir Mekere also accused the prime minister and lacking an ability to understand the nuances of international relations and the dramatic geopolitical changes happening in the region.

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters at St John Ambulance Operations Centre in Port Moresby yesterday. Image: EMTV News

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“What should have been a moment for PNG to shine on the international stage instead descended into chaos, including embarrassing diplomatic incidents, international media allegations of financial and procedural impropriety and organisational disarray,” Sir Mekere said.

“Papua New Guinea’s international standing has been diminished.”

The former PM said the issue for Papua New Guinea was not a failure of the international APEC organisation, the countries involved, or of PNG’s professional diplomats – it was an issue of failed leadership.

Quality of life
Sir Mekere said PNG should not have hosted APEC in the first place.

The K3 billion “lavished” on the event should have been spent on improving the quality of life of ordinary Papua New Guineans.

“Instead we have preventable diseases such as polio, leprosy, TB and malaria surging and people dying – 21 children are now known to have contracted polio,” Sir Mekere said.

“Many schools are closing across the nation. Public servants are not being paid properly and other entitlements such as superannuation payments are being withheld.

“Essential infrastructure outside Port Moresby is crumbling into the dust, and government systems and processes are failing by the day.”

However, Prime Minister O’Neill said he had made history in inviting Pacific Island leaders to take part in the APEC leaders summit, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

“I know Australia, New Zealand and PNG are active members of APEC, but there are also countries within the Pacific region that have their own story to tell,” O’Neill said.

Reception dinner
He said this when he led the Pacific leaders to a reception dinner hosted by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Australian High Commission residence last night.

Pacific leaders who attended included Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and the Prime Ministers of the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and Tonga.

“I would like to thank the Pacific leaders for joining us here at the margins of the APEC meeting.

“Again [the reason] to bring the Pacific Island leaders’ to APEC is that we don’t want to be forgotten out of the APEC community,” O’Neill said.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media