Scott Waide: PNGFM news boss calls for investigations, penalties for troops who assaulted journalists

Parliament Haus in Waigani … scene of the reported assault against PNGFM journalists. Image Scott Waide’s blog

Scott Waide’s blog highlights an open letter by Genesis Ketan, director of news, PNGFM:

As director of News for PNGFM, I am very disappointed at the manner at which two of my reporters – one male and one female – were assaulted by disciplinary officers while covering the storming of Parliament on Tuesday,  20 November 2018.

They were simply there to do their jobs and cover the proceedings of what was happening at National Parliament when they were accosted by a group of inflamed disciplinary officers, both police and correctional service officers.

Upon seeing the journalists – one officer called out “Em ol Reporter ya, ol laik kisim wanem kain story, paitim ol”. (“They are reporters, what kind of story are they here for, beat them up.”)

READ MORE: RSF condemns exclusion of PNG journalists

Police Commissioner Gary Baki … received PNGFM’s assault complaint. Image: Loop PNG

The female journalist was manhandled by a group of police officers who pulled at her shirt attempting to rip it:

“One of the police officers pulled out my camera from my bag and smashed it right in front of me. While I was trying to take in what was happening, another officer pulled my bag causing the leather handle of my bag to break. He then threw my bag on the ground, kicked it towards the other officers, they in turn kicked the bag back to him, emptying out all my belongings in my bag. Another officer picked up my phone and smashed it while others were shouting and yelling abusive languages.”

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She was pushed back and forth during the commotion with just one elderly officer attempting to assist her and help her out to safety.

At the same time, the male reporter was separated from his colleague, then told to put his camera away and not film or take shots.

“During the struggle, I was attacked by a Correctional Service officer at first, which then led to police officers surrounding me and attacking me. During the incident, I was trying to see what was happening to my colleague, but kept getting punched until one Police Mobile Squad officer pulled me away to safety. I had my vest broken, my note book gone and the company camera destroyed by the officers.”

PNGFM has written a letter of complaint to Correctional Service Commissioner Stephen Pokanis and Police Commissioner Gary Baki calling for those involved to be penalized.

Such an attack is an attack on our media freedom when journalists should be protected and not be subjected to such attacks for merely doing their jobs.

Meanwhile, at separate media conferences on Thursday, November 22, both Commissioner Pokanis and Commissioner Baki were informed of the assault against our journalists and have given assurance they will investigate this matter thoroughly.

– Genesis Ketan, director of news, PNGFM

Scott Waide’s blog columns are frequently published by Asia Pacific Report with permission. He is also EMTV deputy news editor based in Lae.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Couple remanded in big Vanuatu human trafficking, slavery case

By Richard M. Nanua and Royson Willie in Port Vila

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The victims were placed in various locations in Port Vila.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The minister said the investigation would take a while.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The case is expected to resume within two weeks.

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

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

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

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Hundreds of protesting PNG police move in on Parliament over pay

PNG security forces protesting in Waigani over unpaid APEC security allowances. Image: Loop PNG

By RNZ Pacific

Hundreds of Papua New Guinea police have descended on Parliament Haus in the Port Moresby suburb of Waigani demanding payments they say they are owed for providing security at last weekend’s APEC leaders summit.

RNZ Pacific’s correspondent in PNG, Melvin Levongo, said multiple police vehicles with armed police were involved.

He said police were demanding to speak with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and APEC Minister Justin Tkatchencko about the extra allowances they were owed.

READ MORE: Reporters attacked as security forces move into Parliament Haus

Levongo said a policeman told him they were very angry at the government.

“You guys have got money to purchase Maserati cars but we are asking for our allowance, so that’s the situation currently at the moment,” he said.

-Partners-

Levongo said traffic had been halted in and around Parliament Haus, and that there was no military involvement in the protest.

Photographs are circulating on social media showing damage at Parliament Haus, including broken glass windows and doors for which PNG police are said to be responsible.

Opposition Madang MP Bryan Kramer’s Facebook page shows hallways and lobbies that have been trashed and an image of startled shadow ministers whose meeting was interrupted.

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

PNG security forces on guard at Parliament Haus in Waigani today. Image: Brian Kramer FB Opposition Madang MP Bryan Kramer speaking in a live Facebook feed about today’s protest at Parliament Haus. Image: Bryan Kramer FB

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Detained tourist in West Papua on allegations of ‘treason’ awaits trial

Accused tourist Jakup Febian Skrzypski with Frits Ramandey of the Human Rights Commission Office of Papua. Image: Tabloid Jubi

By Islami Adisubrata in Wamena, West Papua

Indonesian Regional Police in West Papua have handed over the documents of the case of a Polish tourist, Jakup Fabian Skrzypski, who was arrested recently with three Papuans and accused of “treason”, to the Jayawijaya District Attorney.

Skrzypski reportedly entered Indonesia on a tourist visa but was arrested on suspicion of working as a journalist illegally and having contact with an “insurgency” group, report news agencies.

The file was handed over to the District Attorney on November 2 and he is expected to face trial in Wamena along with three co-accused.

READ MORE: Police declare papers on accused tourist ready for trial

“So, the four suspects were handed over, two arrested in Wamena, including Skrzypski, and others arrested in Yalimo,” said Lintong Simanjuntak, Adjunct Police Commissionaire who is also the Chief of Violence and Crime Division of the Directorate of Crime Investigation of Papua Regional Police.

Skrzypski and three other people departed from Jayapura to Wamena and were immediately transferred to Jayawijaya District Attorney Office for re-examination.

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The four now are detained by the Jayawijaya District Attorney.

Two of the defendants were sent to the House of Correction Class B Wamena, while the other two have been placed in police custody in Jayawijaya police headquarters.

Foreign Ministry help
Adjunct Commissionaire Simanjuntak, who accompanied the four defendants from Jayapura to Wamena, said that although Papua police would investigate this case of alleged treason, the trial would be conducted in Wamena – the place where the incident occurred.

Simanjuntak said that during the investigation, the police were assisted by the Foreign Ministry and had communicated with the Polish Ambassador in Jakarta, ensuring that all procedures had been completed appropriately.

The Chief of State’s Defence and Public Security of the Papua District Attorney Adrianus Irham Tamana said that the trial would be conducted before 20 days of detention had lapsed.

“The trial before 20 days of detention will be handed over to the court. Currently, they are still under our custody,” said Tamana.

But the public prosecutor’s team objected putting the detainees in the police headquarters jail as it was already overcrowded and this could effect access to the basic rights of the detainees in that overcrowded prison, said the detainees legal adviser Latifah Anum Siregar.

“Does this transfer create a problem of over capacity? What about their access and rights? Can these be fulfilled or not?” she asked.

Cell overflowing
Siregar said that during the detention by Papua regional police, the holding cell had already been overflowing, with 50 people occupying space for 25.

Also, the detainees needed to share the toilet for bathing and washing dishes.

“Security must be compared with humanitarian purpose. Don’tt apply security as the reason to ignore humanity.

“My clients have to get access to lawyers, religious leaders and this shouldn’t be restricted,” Siregar said.

She also said Skrzypski had rejected all allegations against him.

Islami Adisubrata is a journalist with Tabloid Jubi and this article has been translated into English and is republished with permission under a content sharing arrangement.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Indonesian police break up Papuan ‘New York’ pact protest in Ternate

Papuan protesters arguing with local Indonesian police in Ternate, North Maluku, about the rights to a public demonstration. Image: FRI-WP/Suara Papua

By Arnold Belau in Jayapura

Police have violently broken up a peaceful action being held by the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-WP) in Ternate, North Maluku, this week.

Action coordinator Rudhy Pravda said the action by 22 protesters on Wednesday was to mark 56 years since the signing of the New York Agreement on August 15, 1962, enabling Indonesia to rule the former territory of Netherlands New Guinea

Pravda said the FRI-WP had followed legal guidelines by submitting a notification with Ternate district police (Polres) three days before the action.

Police responded however with a written rejection on the grounds that the action conflicted with the sovereignty of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI).

“We said that we would still hold the action no matter what the consequences. Given the situation we held the action but with the position that we would accept bear the risk from Ternate Polres,” Pravda said.

“Before the action was broken up, we held negotiations with police. Several FRI-PW members were interrogated by four plain-clothes intelligence officers while they were waiting for protesters to arrive.

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“They tried to intimidate the protest leaders, saying that they were not allowed to hold an action and if they insisted on protesting they must be prepared to accept the risk.

‘You want to die?’
“They said, ‘if you want to die please go ahead’,” Pravda said.

Pravda said the information on plans to block and break up the rally was obtained from protesters attending an earlier rally at the same location. He said that they wanted to negotiate with police but were instead threatened and intimidated.

“Then before they had even unpacked campaign materials for the action, they were surrounded by plain-clothes intelligence officers and uniformed police who banned them from holding the protest, and denying them a chance to negotiate their legal rights.

“I was pushed and shoved and a female demonstrator was also pushed and shoved, and they tried to use violence. The female action coordinator was pulled and grabbed by intelligence officers.

“Although we were determined to continue with the action they outnumbered us so in the end we weren’t able to hold the action,” Pravda said.

Field coordinator Gamaria Mansur said that in addition to breaking up the action, police also confiscated and tore up protest materials such as banners, placards and propaganda.

She added that earlier there had been an argument between protesters and police.

Protesters intimidated
“Police intimidated protesters with threats, saying, ‘do you want to die?’ and calling us traitors and so on.

“I was also pulled and grabbed, then after I shouted I was finally let go”, she said.

When sought for confirmation on the incident, FRI-WP chairperson Surya Anta said he strongly condemned the violent actions by police in Ternate.

“We strongly condemn it. The police’s actions in prohibiting and breaking up the action violate Indonesia’s own laws and regulations on freedom of expression,” he said.

About submitting this report for publication, Ternate police chief Assistance Superintendent Azhari Juanda, who was contacted by Suara Papua through his official Facebook account, has yet to responded.

Background
Following the launch of the Trikora military operation which was aimed at harassing and forcing the Dutch out of Netherlands New Guinea in 1961-62 and under the threat that Indonesia would move from armed infiltrations to a large-scale military attack, US sponsored negotiations that led to the signing of the New York Agreement on August 15, 1962.

The Netherlands agreed to hand over administration of Western New Guinea to Indonesia pending a UN administered plebiscite.

Seven years later under the newly installed Suharto dictatorship, the treaty led to the so-call “Act of Free Choice” in 1969 in which 1025 hand-picked Papuans “voted” at gun-point for the territory remain part of Indonesia.

An abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Polisi Bubarkan Aksi FRI-West Papua di Ternate”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Police claim raid on Papuan students to block ‘Bloody Biak’ film screening

The scene at the Indonesian police raid on Papuan student quarters in Surabaya over the film Bloody Biak. Image: Suara.com

By Pebriansyah Ariefana in Surabaya

Indonesian police have revealed that police and military officers raided a Papuan student dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya in Indonesia at the weekend because the students were allegedly planning to screen the documentary film Bloody Biak (Biak Berdarah).

Tambaksari Sectoral Police Chief Police Commander Prayitno claimed that security personnel went to the Papuan student dormitory in order to prevent an incident such as one that occurred in Malang earlier in the week from happening in Surabaya.

“[According] to information we received, they announced on social media that they would show the film Bloody Biak. So we went to the dormitory to anticipate this,” he said.

However, the planned screening of the film Bloody Biak on Friday was cancelled, and replaced by a screening of World Football Cup matches.

“If the discussion had still gone ahead. Apparently the film Bloody Biak [was to be screened] which tells the story of the massacre of Papuan people. I don’t know if this was true or not”, he said.

A joint operation by hundreds of TNI (Indonesian military), police and Public Order Agency officers (Satpol PP) raided the Papuan student dormitory located on Jl. Kalasan No. 10 Surabaya on Friday.

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The dormitory is home to hundreds of students and Papuan alumni from various tertiary education institutions in Surabaya.

Security personnel sealed off the Papuan student dormitory because of suspicions that there would be “hidden activities”.

Inside the dormitory, they were to hold a discussion and wanted to screen the film Bloody Biak that evening.

Background
On July 6, 1998, scores of people in Biak Island’s main town were wounded, arrested or killed while staging a peaceful demonstration calling for independence from Indonesia.

Earlier last week on July 1, police violently closed down a discussion by West Papuan students at Brawijaya University in the East Java city of Malang marking the 47th anniversary of the proclamation of independence in 1971 by the Free West Papua Movement.

Police claimed that they closed own the discussion following complaints from local people.

Translated from the Suara.com story by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Film Biak Berdarah, Alasan Polisi Kepung Asrama Papua di Surabaya”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Frustrated PNG tribesmen capture 2 policemen – seize vehicles, weapons

Southern Highlands tribesmen show off seized police vehicle and assault rifles. Image: EMTV News Facebook

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Two Papua New Guinean police vehicles travelling from Hagen to Hela in the Highlands after servicing were fired on today in a Highlands attack, with one vehicle being seized and two policemen taken captive, report local media.

The Tari-based MS9 vehicles were shot at this morning at Tindom Hill, Semin village, reports the EMTV News Facebook page.

Loop PNG also reports the attack, saying it was carried out by “disgruntled Nipa locals”.

READ MORE: Mendi in chaos after renewed political violence erupts

A seized PNG police vehicle at Semin village, Southern Highlands. Image: EMTV News Facebook

But the news website also quoted regional police chief Gideon Kauke as saying the policemen were “rescued by another unit” while their weapons and vehicles had been removed.

Kauke said the police were “regrouping” and deciding on the next course of action.

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EMTV News said the first vehicle, driven by the MS9 commander, escaped with a flat tyre. The second vehicle was driven by two other police officers and three assault rifles had been seized.

Hela police chief Martin Lakari had appealed to Southern Highlands people to release the officers and the state vehicles.

Deputy Police Commissioner Operations Jim Andrews confirmed police were holding talks with locals to negotiate the return of vehicles and weapons.

Loop PNG reported the tribesmen were upset over Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government decision on Friday to suspend the Southern Highlands provincial government following rioting in Mendi on Thursday.

Asia Pacific Report republishes EMTV News content with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PNG condemned for sorcery attacks, police brutality and over refugees

Refugees and asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have suffered repeated violent attacks and robberies by locals, says Human Rights Watch. Video: HRW

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Papua New Guinea has been condemned for violent mob attacks on people accused of sorcery – especially women or girls, repeated assaults and robberies on refugees, failure to address police brutality and corruption in the latest country report by Human Rights Watch.

The New York-based rights watchdog flagged a Madang trial that began in March of 122 people accused of killing five men and two children suspected of witchcraft and serial attacks on women.

Almost 40 percent of the country’s 8 million people live in poverty, and the government is far too reliant on religious groups and non-government organisations to provide charitable services for the economic and social rights of citizens.

Among other key points of the chapter in its annual world report:

• The government has not taken sufficient steps to address gender inequality, violence, excessive use of force by police;
• Rates of family and sexual violence are among the highest in the world, and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted; and
• Papua New Guinea has one of the highest rates of maternal death in the world.

-Partners-

‘Electoral violence’
Last August, Peter O’Neill was reelected as prime minister following an “election marred by widespread electoral irregularities and violence”, Human Rights Watch says.

“Soldiers and extra police were sent to the Highlands in response to fighting triggered by the election, where dozens of people, including police, had been killed in election-related violence.

“Refugees and asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have suffered repeated violent attacks and robberies by locals, with inadequate hospital care on the island and no action by police.”

The watchdog says that more than three years after the 2013 Family Protection Act was adopted, Parliament in May finally passed regulations to implement the law, which criminalises domestic violence and allows victims to obtain protection orders.

However, police and prosecutors “rarely pursue investigations or criminal charges against people who commit family violence” — even in cases of attempted murder, serious injury, or repeated rape — and instead prefer to resolve such cases through mediation and/or payment of compensation.

Police often demand money (“for fuel”) from victims before acting, or simply ignore cases that occur in rural areas.

There is also a severe lack of services for people requiring assistance after having suffered family violence, such as safe houses, qualified counselors, case management, financial support, or legal aid, the report says.

Violent mobs
Violent mobs attacked individuals accused of sorcery or witchcraft, particularly women and girls.

In March, a trial involving 122 defendants began in Madang. The defendants were charged in connection with the killing of five men and two children suspected of sorcery in 2014, Human Rights Watch says.

The prosecution alleged that the men raided a village in search of sorcerers to kill, armed with “bush knives, bows and arrows, hunting spears, [and] home-made and factory-made shotguns.”

No further details were available at time of the watchdog’s report regarding the trial’s progress.

Papua New Guinea has one of the highest rates of maternal death in the world. Just over 50 percent of women and girls give birth in a health facility or with the help of a skilled birth attendant.

Although the PNG government supports universal access to contraception, two out of three women still cannot access contraception due to geographic, cultural, and economic barriers.

Abortion remains illegal in PNG, except when the mother’s life is at risk.

Police abuse rampant
Police abuse remained rampant in Papua New Guinea, says Human Rights Watch.

In May, police detained and assaulted a doctor at a police roadblock on his way home in Port Moresby. The case triggered a public outcry, but no one had been charged for the offence at time of writing.

Few police are ever held to account for beating or torturing criminal suspects, but in December 2016, a mobile squad commander was charged with the murder of a street vendor, six months after the alleged offence occurred.

A court granted him bail in January 2017. In September, police charged a former police officer with the 2013 murder of two people in Central Province.

Despite the ombudsman and police announcing investigations into the 2016 police shooting of eight university students during a protest in Port Moresby, at time of writing no police had been charged or disciplined and neither body had issued a report.

About 770 male asylum seekers and refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and Iran, live on Manus Island.

Another 35 or so have signed settlement papers to remain in PNG, although only four of these are working and financially independent.

Temporary living
About 70 are temporarily living in Port Moresby. All were forcibly transferred to PNG by Australia since 2013, says Human Rights Watch.

Australia pays for their upkeep but refuses to resettle them, insisting refugees must settle in PNG or third countries, such as the United States.

Refugees and asylum seekers do not feel safe on Manus due to a spate of violent attacks by locals in the town of Lorengau.

Local youths attacked refugees and asylum seekers with bush knives, sticks, and rocks and robbed them of mobile phones and possessions.

Police failed to hold perpetrators to account.

In April, soldiers fired shots at the main regional processing center, injuring nine people including refugees and center staff.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media