AUT students: ‘We want to stay as a country, unified, always’

By Michael Andrew

Muslim students at Auckland University of Technology have praised the gestures of kindness they have received from fellow students and the New Zealand community following last Friday’s terror attack in Christchurch when 50 people were massacred.

The students reflected as New Zealand was poised for a national day of mourning vigils, including a two-minute silence in solidarity across the nation after the Friday Muslim call to prayer relayed by the public broadcasters RNZ and TVNZ at 1.30pm.

Having just returned to Auckland from Christchurch where she was visiting friends and family – some of whom were wounded in the attacks – first year student Ruqaiyah Hanif said the support she had received since Friday had been overwhelming.

“Today I was coming on the train alone and I know as a Muslim we are told to stay in groups just to be safer, I had these young men approach me and they just sat with me and talked with me through the train ride,” she said.

READ MORE: Hate speech ‘gives green light’ to religion, race attacks

#TheyAreUs

“It was just really nice and comforting to know that there are people that care, and they’re everywhere.”

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Hanif, who is in her first year of a business degree, said that while she knows people who were killed in the attacks, the strength shown by those recovering is inspiring.

“I visited the Al Noor Mosque and the response centre and met a woman who lost her husband and she was so strong. These people are an inspiration to us.”

The Al Noor Mosque was the first of the two mosques attacked in last Friday’s shooting.

Muslim students at a cultural display about Islam at Auckland University of Technology this week: (from left) Ruqaiyah Hanif, Zara Jawadi, Samirah, and Nora Rahimi. Image: Michael Andrew/PMW

Safe and secure
Fourth year business student Samirah had also noticed the support shown at AUT, saying the measures taken by the police and campus security had made her feel safe and secure.

“I had a police officer approach me and say ‘if there is anything I need we’re around campus and we’re around the Masjid as well’.

“We’ve got prayers coming up on Friday and people have said, ‘we will form a human chain around you so we can make sure you’re safe inside.’”

The AUT Masjid has been under guard by campus security this week and police have also been regularly patrolling the area.

Doctoral student and campus security guard Omer Bin Nasir, who has been stationed outside the AUT Masjid, said that while Friday was a dark day Muslims were touched by the efforts of the public and the government.

“Last Friday was black Friday for Muslims, for New Zealand, but after that, the way the government and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has addressed this issue, I think Muslims living in New Zealand feel much more secure, and they feel they are part of this country.”

Bin Nasan, a former television journalist from Pakistan, who is researching how domestic violence is portrayed in the New Zealand media, said he had experienced racism and bullying in this country before. The issue was resolved quickly, however, after he contacted police.

Support messages from AUT students and staff at a display about Islam on campus this week. Image: Michael Andrew/PMW

‘Country before heaven’
“This is a country before heaven,” he said. “It is so beautiful, and the people are really friendly.”

Despite the outpouring of public support in the aftermath of the massacre, other students have echoed Bin Nasan’s experience of racism in New Zealand. Some have even been subjected to abuse since Friday.

“There have more attacks on Muslims from Friday until now. My friend was attacked and my house was attacked,” said student Nora Rahimi.

“Some people realise their agenda is being spread out and they’re like, hmmm, this is acceptable now.”

Rahimi, who is studying for a Bachelor or Arts, said the accused terrorist should have been on a security watch list prior to the attack.

“Despite that I am very happy that the government is taking big steps forward to help us and the community.”

Office manager Zara Jawadi felt the same way. However, she stressed the need for ongoing education about all religions including Islam.

Get educated
“I think people should be inspired now to get out there and educate themselves, and see for themselves what our religion is all about, not just Islam but all the other religions in this country.”

Jawadi, who works for the charity New Muslim Project also said that ongoing racism, no matter the context, was not acceptable.

“Each of us has a responsibility to stand up against racism, whether it’s a small comment or a joke, don’t let that be ok anymore.”

The other students agreed that consistency was the best way to prevent further attacks. They hoped the sense of unity felt after Friday would continue.

“All this love and support we’ve been getting, we just want it to continue,” said Samirah.
“We don’t want it to end in a few weeks and everything goes back to how it was, when we stop knowing about each other and stop caring about each other.

“We want to stay as a country, unified, always.”

Michael Andrew is the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project contributing editor.

#TheyAreUs video wall tile at Auckland University of Technology today announcing national mourning events on the institution’s three campuses. Image: David Robie/PMC

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Online hate speech ‘gives green light’ to religion, race attacks

Hate speech … “The problem of socially-conditioned hatred is so much larger and more intricate than the capacity of any sort of censorship to control it.” Image: David Robie/PMC

By Michael Andrew

Religion and race-based attacks will continue as a result of the rise of online hate speech, says a leading New Zealand academic.

Professor Paul Spoonley, pro vice-chancellor of Massey University, told Asia Pacific Report that online hate speech “provides an enabling environment which green lights racial and religious vilification”.

He was responding to a media focus on racism and Islamophobia in news media this week, following last Friday’s massacre in which 50 people were killed by a right-wing terrorist.

READ MORE: Hate speech – we need to understand the damage it does

“It provides unfiltered ideas and arguments for those who are pliable and interested. And it tells others what you have done and got away with,” said Dr Spoonley, who gave a public lecture on the topic at the National Library on Tuesday.

Prior to the Christchurch attack, the accused terrorist was active on far-right online forums that promoted anti-Islamic sentiment.

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In a recent article published by the Pacific Media Centre, Dr Spoonley wrote that he had personally encountered such hate speech.

Hateful comments
“I looked at what some New Zealanders were saying online. It did not take long to discover the presence of hateful and anti-Muslim comments.

“It would be wrong to characterise these views and comments as widespread, but New Zealand was certainly not exempt from Islamophobia.”

Recent research reports similar findings. According to a 2018 Netsafe survey of adult New Zealanders, 30 percent of participants had encountered online hate speech targeting someone else while 11 percent of all New Zealanders had been personally targeted themselves.

Religion was the most common reason for the abuse, followed closely by race and ethnicity.

While the internet has enabled such abuse to be shared more effectively, some argue that hate speech is an inherent issue in New Zealand society and has been since the days of early colonisation.

“This country was founded on hate speech,” said Associate Professor Camille Nakhid, an AUT sociologist and chair of the PMC advisory board.

“I suppose they didn’t call it hate speech at the time, but the taking of Maori land, the denigration of people considered worthless, the marginalisation of their customs through laws and media, I’m still struggling to think why New Zealanders cannot see the correlation.”

Racism unchecked
A researcher of marginalised and minority groups, Dr Nakhid said the attacks such as the mosque ones in Christchurch were an inevitable result of the racism that went unchecked in New Zealand society.

“We saw the danger of hate speech on Friday. If you look at what New Zealand media personalities have said about migrants and refugees, this is what it would lead to.”

There has been a number of recent controversies involving on-air racism, most notably when Newstalk ZB’s Heather du Plessis-Allan referred to Pacific countries as leeches.

In the wake of Friday’s massacre there has been a public outcry calling for the regulation and censorship of such speech in order to prevent further race and religion-based attacks.

However, AUT professor of history Paul Moon said that while a desire for censorship was an instinctive response to hate-based events, it would not address the root cause of the problem.

“Censorship would be fruitless as a means of prevention because it addresses only a small part of the symptom, rather than the underlying cause” he said.

“The problem of socially-conditioned hatred is so much larger and more intricate than the capacity of any sort of censorship to control it.”

Isolation dangerous
While he said that there was cause to re-evaluate the limits of free speech in New Zealand, stifling speech could often create a dangerous climate of isolation.

“What the Christchurch killer’s manifesto revealed was a profound degree of ignorance, isolation, and self-loathing,” he said.

“It was precisely a lack of exchange of ideas with the wider community that contributed to such a warped and manifestly dangerous view of the world.”

While the national grief has been palpable in the days following the massacre, the majority of the public has galvanised around New Zealand’s Muslim community, offering support, laying flowers at mosques and holding vigils of solidarity.

This, said Dr Moon, was the best way to counter hate speech.

“Participation, learning, and sharing are among the best antidotes to isolation, and the sort of hatred that can ferment from such social separation.”

Michael Andrew is the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom project contributing editor.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Filipino groups denounce cyberattacks against independent media

Groups denounce cyberattacks against several independent media websites in the Philippines. Image: Kodao Productions/Global Voices

By Mong Palatino in Manila

Several media groups in the Philippines marked the World Day Against Cyber Censorship this week by holding a protest to denounce the ongoing cyberattacks against their websites which they claim are backed by the government.

Since December 2018, the websites of alternative media groups Bulatlat, Kodao Productions, Pinoy Weekly and Altermidya have been targeted by distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).

The NUJP “we’re still up” page. Image: PMC screenshot

The websites of Arkibong Bayan, Manila Today and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines have also been attacked in the past month.

According to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, at least 10 cases of cyber onslaught against select Filipino news outlets have been documented since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016.

Qurium, a Sweden-based media foundation which has been assisting those media groups, confirmed the DDoS attacks against Altermidya and other alternative news websites.

The details of the DDoS attacks have been reported to the government’s National Computer Emergency Response Team (NCERT) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). After one month had passed without the government body acknowledging their report, the media groups led by Altermidya decided to protest in front of NCERT’s office on Tuesday.

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In a pooled editorial, the media groups linked the cyberattacks to the government’s crackdown on dissent:

The Duterte regime is using every means to silence dissent, criticism and free expression: from threats, incarceration to killings, to cyber warfare. The main target of this latest assault are the alternative media that mostly via online disseminate reports and views on events and issues that are rarely covered, if at all, by the dominant media. The goal is to deny a public hungry for information the reports and stories that it needs to understand what is happening in a country besieged by lies and disinformation.

The editorial condemned the increasing attacks against the press, especially those perceived to be critical of the Duterte government.

Altermidya national coordinator Rhea Padilla explained on Facebook why they protested against NCERT:

This is why we are here. We demand that they act on the attacks. Otherwise, we will be lead to believe that NCERT and DICT are complicit in the attack on press freedom.

Altermidya reporter Toby Roca echoed her words:

Jola Diones-Mamangun, executive director of Kodao Productions, criticised the use of bots and trolls to undermine the work of the independent media:

Not content with fomenting disinformation and fake news, the Duterte administration is hell-bent on silencing what it considers as fierce critics and political opponents and goes to extreme lengths and harnessing even the power of the dark web.

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former lawmaker in the House of Representatives. He has been blogging since 2004 at mongster’s nest. This article is republished from Global Voices on a Creative Commons licence.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Activist’s arrest shows Widodo ‘no different’ from Suharto, says AJI

AJI chairperson Abdul Manan speaking at a Jakarta rally … “freedom of expression … is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Image: Sakina Rakhma/Kompas

By Fitria Chusna Farisa in Jakarta

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) has called on the Indonesian police to release Jakarta State University lecturer Robertus Robet who has been indicted on charges of insulting the authorities or a public agency.

AJI says that a speech given by Robert during a Kamisan (Thursday) action in front of the State Palace on February 28 which touched on the dual socio-political role (dwi-fungsi) of ABRI — an abbreviation for the Indonesian Armed Forces, now called TNI — was an act of free expression by a citizen which is guaranteed under Article 28E Paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution (UUD 1945).

“Expressing a view is part of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said AJI chairperson Abdul Manan in a written press release yesterday.

According to AJI, Robet’s arrest shows that there was no difference between the current regime of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the New Order regime of former president Suharto which curbed freedom of expression and opinion.

AJI condemned Robet’s arrest because it was done without any clear legal basis.

“Robertus Robet’s criticism of the government’s plan to again place active TNI [officers] in civil posts is protected by legislation,” said Manan.

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AJI is also urging the police to immediately release Robet and respect human rights which guarantee citizens the right freedom of opinion and expression as regulated under the UUD 1945.

‘Rubber articles’
Finally, AJI is calling for the “rubber articles” (catchall articles) in the Electronic Transaction and Information law (UU ITE) and the Criminal Code (KUHP) to be annulled.

“We call for the annulment of the rubber articles in the UU ITE and the KUHP which are frequently used to criminalise human rights defenders, including journalists,” he said.

Police have declared Robet a suspect in a case of alleged criminal defamation against the authorities or a public agency in Indonesia.

Based on the charge document from the National Police, Robert has been indicted under Article 45 A Paragraph (2) in connection with Article 28 Paragraph (2) of the ITE law and/or Article 14 Paragraph (2) in conjunction with Article 15 of Law Number 1/1946 on the Criminal Code and/or Article 207 of the Criminal Code (KUHP).

Robet is alleged to have disseminated information aimed at creating hatred and animosity against individuals and or social groups based on SARA (ethnic, religion, race and inter-group issues), fake news or defamation against the authorities or a public agency.

Robet is alleged to have committed this crime when he was giving a speech at the Kamisan action on February 28 about ABRI’s dwi-fungsi.

In the speech, Robert sang a song which was popular among the 1998 students movement to satirise the ABRI.

Translated by James Balowski of Indo-Left News. The original title of the article in Kompas was “AJI Nilai Orasi Robertus Robet adalah Kebebasan Berekspresi Warga Negara”.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

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‘Not a big deal’ claim police, rejecting UN call for Papua snake investigation

The python used to interrogate a Papuan suspect “was a pet snake that was not poisonous and tame”, claim Indonesian police. Image: CNNIndonesia

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Papua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.

The statement was made in response to calls by United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into the use of the snake.

“The problem’s already been resolved, so there’s no need to make a big deal out of it anymore,” Diaz told CNN Indonesia.

READ MORE: Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to Indonesia to end torture

Diaz said the investigation conducted by the Papua Regional Police Professionalism and Security Affairs Division (Propam) into the case had already been completed.

“Propam has already dealt with the case, so it’s resolved,” he said.

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Nevertheless, Diaz did not explain the results of the investigation or what sanctions would be given to the officers involved.

Speaking to journalists earlier, however, Diaz said there were several sanctions that could be applied including a written reprehend, a maximum one-year postponement of education, a postponement in regular wage increases, a postponement of one promotional period or a transfer and demotion.

Heaviest sanction
In addition to this, the heaviest sanction that can be given to officers who violate discipline is to be released from their posts or be assigned to a specific location for a maximum of 21 days.

Several UN human rights experts have urged Indonesia to investigate allegations of violence by the police and military in Papua related to the use of the snake during an interrogation.

“We urge the Indonesian government to take firm measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua,” read a statement by the UN experts.

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

The experts, who are made up of UN special rapporteurs, also said that Papuans had been treated in “cruel, inhuman and degrading” ways.

Jayawijaya District Police Chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Tonny Ananda Swadaya claimed that it was the police officers’ own initiative to conduct the interrogation into the theft using a python.

According to Swadaya, however, it was just trick used during the interrogation so that the perpetrator would confess to their crimes. He also asserted that the snake used to frighten the suspect was a pet snake that was not poisonous and tame.

“This ended up going viral on social media, it’s been blown out of proportion in other parts of the country. Here [in Papua] the public is supportive. A tame snake, non-poisonous, it didn’t bite [the suspect] and after being given the snake, the thief admitted to the crime,” said Swadaya .

Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Polda Papua Tolak Usul Ahli PBB soal Interogasi Pakai Ular”.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

West Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to halt Indonesian torture

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

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The UN statement continued:

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

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

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

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Papuans plan to boycott Indonesian elections, say independence activists

Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua spokesperson Surya Anta (centre) speaking at LBH Jakarta last week. Image: CNN Indonesia

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan people will not take part in Indonesia’s 2019 presidential and legislative elections, say the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP).

This is because they accuse the Indonesian government of illegal political practices in Papua, of failing to uphold the rights of the Papuan people and because both presidential candidates have a bad track record on Papua.

“Indonesia is a state which since the declaration of the Trikora operation on December 19, 1961, has conducted illegal political activities in the territory”, said FRI-WP spokesperson Surya Anta at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta) offices in Central Jakarta last week.

READ MORE: Surprise at no mention of Papua in presidential hopefuls’ speeches

“Because of this we are taking a position and declaring that we will not take part in the 2019 presidential or legislative elections,” he said.

Anta explained that what they mean by the territory of West Papua was an area extending from Numbai to Merauke, Raja Ampat to Baliem and Biak Island to Adi Island.

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The groups also believe that the contestants in the 2019 election on April 17 are the same as those in previous elections where candidates are only interested in gathering votes from the Papuan people.

However, there has been no effort by the legislative, presidential or vice-presidential candidates to uphold the rights of the West Papuan people, they say.

Maintaining colonialism
Speaking in the same vein, Student Struggle Center for National Liberation (Pembebasan) national collective secretary-general Samsi Mahmud said that the Papuan people were not interested in the 2019 elections.

Aside from Indonesia’s illegal political activities, according to Mahmud none of the political parties are articulating the wishes of the Papuan people and the elections are only aimed at maintaining the practice of colonialism.

“[The elections] are a tool for the colonial government to put local power holders in place to safeguard their interests”, said Mahmud.

AMP member Erepul Sama said there was no difference between the two presidential candidates, incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, particularly in their handling of human rights violations.

“Prabowo himself has a bad track record in Papua such as the Mapenduma incident. But this doesn’t mean that Jokowi is any better”, said Sama.

“Jokowi has allowed human rights violations to occur again and again, for example in the bloody Paniai case which has still not been resolved”, he added.

Aside from declaring that they will not take part in the 2019 elections, the FRP-WP and the AMP made three other demands:

  • West Papuans be given the right to self-determination,
  • All organic and non-organic troops be withdrawn from Papua, and
  • Journalists be given free access to Papua.

Background
Operation Trikora was declared by Indonesian founding President Sukarno in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 19, 1961.

It was an Indonesian military operation aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 rather than one intended to suppress a nascent independence movement.

The Mapenduma operation was a botched rescue operation in the remote Mapenduma area of West Papua led by then Kopassus commander Prabowo Subianto in 1996 to secure the release of World Wildlife Fund researches taken hostage by the Free Papua Movement.

The attempt ended in a military attack on Geselema village resulting in the death of up to eight civilians.

On December 8, 2014, barely two months after Widodo was sworn in as president, five students were killed and 17 others seriously injured when police and military opened fire on a group of protesters and local residents in the town of Enarotali, Paniai regency.

Shortly after the incident, Widodo personally pledged to resolve the case but four years into his presidency no one has been held accountable for the shootings.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indo-Left News Service. The original title of the article was “Golput, Aktivis West Papua Tuding Jokowi Prabowo Sama Saja”.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesian smear campaigns target Jokowi ahead of presidential election

By Ainur Rohmah in Jakarta

Fake news and hate speech are inundating Indonesia on and offline with the country’s general election just two months away and with presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and incumbent Joko Widodo locked in a contest for the top spot.

Jokowi, as the president is known, remains clearly in the lead with as much as 20 percent of the voters picking him despite his being the target of torrents of fake news, according to several recent surveys.

The Prabowo team claims the race is closer based on internal surveys – which they decline to share.

READ MORE: Meet the fake news trolls who influenced the US and Indonesian polls for money

A survey by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) shows Jokowi and his partner, Islamic leader Ma’ruf Amin, with voter approval at 54.8 percent, while Prabowo and his running mate, businessman Sandiaga Uno, are well behind at 31.0 percent.

But in an example of the depth of misleading advertising, survey results of the Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) say nearly 45 percent of 1,116 respondents surveyed said they receive fake news and hoaxes every day.

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Unfortunately, 30.3 percent of respondents say they have difficulty checking the truth of such reports, with more than 75 percent of respondents agreeing that false news can disrupt community harmony.

Political issues dominate the fake news transmissions, according to the survey, followed by misleading reports on religion and health.

Chat applications
They can take the form of photos, videos, and narratives, and are mostly distributed via social media (Facebook and Twitter) and chat applications such as Whatsapp.

Among Indonesia’s 265.4 million population, fully half or 132.7 million are internet users, based on research conducted by We Are Social, with almost all of them – 130 million – active social media users.

At least 192 million voters will select the president and their representatives in parliament simultaneously across the country on April 17.

The latest research by the social media monitoring site PoliticaWave found that hoaxes mostly target Jokowi.

“From the presidential elections in 2014 to 2019, it appears that Jokowi is a victim of political hoaxes,” said executive director PoliticaWave Jose Rizal at a press conference in Jakarta.

PoliticaWave also found that the numbers of hoax issues have been rising. The 10 biggest hoax issues relating to the 2019 election include a fake attack on activist Ratna Sarumpaet, who first accused the Jokowi camp of being behind it.

She later switched her allegiance to the president. Others deal with reports of very large government debt; allegations that several containers filled with ballots had been discovered as already cast for Jokowi; toll electronic transactions associated with debt to China; and fake e-KTPs from China.

Many accusations
Jokowi has been accused of being a member of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), of being a closet Christian, of using foreign consultants and of having a fake high school certificate.

Others include that 10 million workers from China have entered Indonesia; and that vice presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin will be replaced by the former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaya Purnama, who was arrested on trumped up blasphemy charges that played an integral role in his defeat.

“The ten biggest hoax issues are aimed at attacking Jokowi,” said Yose.

Claiming that he was fed up with accusations and hoaxes against him, Jokowi in recent speeches has sought to clarify the various negative allegations and to go after his political opponents.

In early February, he hinted – without mentioning specifically – a campaign team that carried out so-called “Russian propaganda,” a name that has gained increased currency with spectacular charges over Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

The term is construed as an accusation against Prabowo’s camp.

“The problem is that there is a campaign team that prepares Russian propaganda which is (marked) at any time to issue a blast of slander and hoax,” Jokowi said while addressing thousands of supporters in the city of Surabaya.

Foreign consultants
Jokowi accused the Prabowo camp of hiring foreign consultants, who he said were only oriented to victory without considering that their strategy could potentially divide society. He also criticised the opposition for often accusing him of being pro-foreigners even though they themselves used the services of foreigners.

“Their consultants are foreign consultants,” he said. “Then who is the foreign stooge? Do not let us be treated continuously by lies. Our people are smart, whether in the city or in the village,” he said.

Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon denied the allegations.

“We do not use foreign consultants. We can’t afford to pay (foreign consultants),” he said.

Prabowo’s team responded by accusing Jokowi himself of using the services of a foreign consultant named Stanley Greenberg. The accusation was based on an article on a website stating that Stanley had been a consultant to Jokowi.

“A note for all these inquiries,” Greenberg responded publicly. “I have never worked for Mr Widodo in any way. The website you mention is not accurate nor affiliated with me in any capacity.

“Accurate information on our past clients is listed on my official website,” Greenberg wrote through his Twitter account @stangreenberg, attaching his official website.

‘Russian propaganda’
The controversy about “Russian propaganda” also provoked the Russian Embassy in Jakarta to comment.

“We underline that Russia’s principal position is not to intervene in domestic affairs and electoral processes in foreign countries, including Indonesia which is our close friend and important partner,” wrote the Russian Embassy through its official Twitter account @RusEmbJakarta.

But Jokowi’s special team of Cakra 19 said it was convinced that “Russian propaganda” was now being applied in Indonesia, by adopting what is known as “firehoses of falsehoods,” an operation used by Russian hackers between 2012-2017 in the Crimea crisis, the Ukrainian conflict and the civil war in Syria.

“In Russia, this modus operandi has emerged as long ago as the 1870s through the Narodniki movement. This movement was used to bring down the Russian Czar by continually raising negative issues,” said the chairperson of the Cakra 19 team, Andi Widjajanto in a written statement.

“Operation blast of slander aims to make lies defeat the truth. This operation wants to destroy public trust in political authorities, including the media,” said the former Cabinet Secretary and defense expert.

Prabowo’s campaign team, known as the National Winning Agency (BPN), has launched allegations that the Jokowi government has used legal means to get rid of political opponents ahead of the upcoming election.

“Now people who have the potential to gain votes in the BPN circle have begun to be crushed one by one,” Gerindra Party general secretary Ahmad Muzani said.

Hate speech
He charged that a musician-turned politician, Ahmad Dhani, and a cleric leading the Movement 212 – a group of conservative Muslims who held a series of demonstrations against former Jakarta governor Basuki – named Slamet Ma’arif had been the target of what he called “criminalisation”.

Dhani was sentenced to 18 months in prison at the end of January on a charge of hate speech. Ma’arif members are now suspected of a series of alleged campaign violations.

Several other names in Prabowo’s camp were also involved in legal cases or even jailed. Muzani claimed the police were quick to investigate cases involving Prabowo’s sympathizers but not with cases involving or suspected of involving Jokowi’s supporters.

“We have submitted many reports (to the police), but it seems that there is not enough evidence. Whereas when our party was reported, (it was said) there was enough evidence. This is no longer inequality, it is bias,” Muzani said.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko denied Muzani’s allegations, emphasizing that the government did not intervene in the legal process.

“That there are (BPN members) who are entangled in legal matters, look to yourselves. It may be something that is wrong (with themselves). So don’t always blame the government,” Said Moeldoko as quoted by kompas.com

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘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

-Partners-

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

Philippine website editor Maria Ressa held on ‘cyber libel’ charge

Award-winning journalist, publisher and editor Maria Ressa (left) being arrested in Rappler’s newsroom yesterday. She was being kept in detention last night. Image: Maria Tan/AFP/RSF

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Paris-based global media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned yesterday’s arrest of Maria Ressa, editor of the independent Manila-based news website Rappler, on a “cyber libel” (defamation) charge.

It is referring the Philippine government’s “repeated persecution” of this journalist and her website to the United Nations Secretary-General.

Chosen as one of Time Magazine’s “persons of the year” in 2018, Ressa was spending last night in detention after being arrested at Rappler headquarters by agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) armed with an arrest warrant issued on the basis of online defamation case filed last week.

READ MORE: Rappler CEO Maria Ressa arrested for ‘cyber libel’

“It seems that her arrest was left until the end of the afternoon with the deliberate aim of keeping her in detention overnight,” RSF said.

According to her colleagues, the judge said there was no time to handle the bail request until today.

-Partners-

The Philippine Justice Department filed the case against Ressa and Rappler on February 6 over an article published in 2012 about alleged ties between a Philippine businessmen and the then president of the country’s Supreme Court.

The charges, which carry a possible 12-year jail sentence, were brought under a cyber crime law that had not yet taken effect when the article was published.

‘No place in prison’
“Maria Ressa has no place in prison and the judicial persecution to which she is being subjected is becoming increasingly unacceptable,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

“Digging up an old case that was dismissed in February 2018 is absolutely absurd and confirms that this is not justice but an attempt to gag a media outlet and editor recognised internationally for their professionalism and independence.”

Deloire added: “We are asking the UN secretary-general to intercede as quickly as possible to end this harassment. At the same time, we ask the court that handles this case to dismiss all the charges against Maria Ressa and Rappler.”

This is the sixth charge to be brought against Ressa in more than a year of systematic judicial harassment.

Four charges of tax evasion and failing to file income tax returns were brought against Rappler and Ressa last November. A fifth charge, described by RSF as “completely spurious”, was brought in December.

Ressa is one of the 25 members of an international panel created at RSF’s initiative last year that drafted an international Declaration on Information and Democracy.

On the basis of the declaration, the leaders of 12 democratic countries launched a political process on November 11 aimed at providing democratic guarantees for news and information and freedom of opinion.

Media freedom awards
As well as being one of Time Magazine’s “persons of the year,” Ressa also received the 2018 Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists and has become a symbol of the Philippine media’s fight against intimidation by President Rodrigo Duterte.

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

Press freedom groups around the world, including New Zealand’s Pacific Media Centre/Pacific Media Watch, condemned the persecution, with Pen America saying the arrest showed the Duterte government was “desperate” to silence critics.

“Maria Ressa, along with her colleagues at Rappler, has fearlessly exposed the abuses of the Duterte government, even in the face of relentless harassment,” Pen said.

“By arresting her on these absurd and baseless charges, concerning an article published 7 years ago and prior to the enactment of the very law under which she is being charged, the Philippines government has exposed how desperate it is to silence critics and stamp out independent journalism in the country.

“We call on the Duterte government to immediately drop these charges and release Ressa. Investigative journalism is not a crime.”

#Journalismisnotacrime

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media