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.”)
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.”
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.
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. advertisement
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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.
Evening Report Analysis – National Affairs and the Public Interest, by Selwyn Manning.
Accusations have surfaced alleging the current National Party leadership conspired to politically destroy Jami-Lee Ross – this after details of his affair with a fellow party MP became known to them. The allegations raise serious questions. Those questions include: what did National’s leader and deputy leader know and when did they find out?
A sworn to timeline of events is now essential so that the public interest can be satisfied. This must be a crucial element that is cemented in to the methodology of Simon Bridges’ inquiry into the culture of the National Party. Above all, it must be independent and publicly accessible.
The inquiry must examine the National leadership team’s actions and culture, test whether they acted in a proper and timely manner, and assess whether their actions considered a concern for the welfare and mental health of an MP they had previously supported, promoted, and embedded within their leadership team.
It follows that allegations suggesting a “hit job” was orchestrated from inside the National Party leadership must also be independently explored.
If the inquiry finds that either the leader, or deputy leader, was part of a destructive and inhumane attack on Jami-Lee Ross – while it was known that he was at high risk of being pushed over the edge, was ill, and verging on suicide – and that they acted without reasonable regard for his welfare, then it must be accepted by the National Party caucus, its membership and the public, that this National leadership team is at the very least morally bankrupt.
This inquiry ought to be conducted amidst a background whereby Ross declared his role in the destructive side of politics; following the orders of Sir John Key, Bill English, Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges. Ross was afterall a ‘numbers man’ for Bridges, and benefitted from the patronage that the Bridges-Bennett leadership team offered.
There are a number of ‘ifs’ in this analysis, but the public interest demands that they be considered.
The allegations have surfaced on the blog-site Whaleoil which is owned and edited by controversial writer Cameron Slater.
Some may dismiss the allegations on the basis of tribalism, or ignore the allegations because Slater was centrally involved in National’s so called Dirty Politics as revealed in 2014. But the nature of the allegations are as serious as they get in politics, and, if accurate played a part in the sudden deterioration of Jami-Lee Ross’ mental health, the sectioning of Ross for his own protection, and the erasion of credibility of a potential political opponent who was determined to continue as a critical member of New Zealand’s Parliament.
This analysis’ argument suggests any such bias, on behalf by Cameron Slater’s opponents, ought to be ethically and morally put aside until such a time as the truth and facts are tested. Such an inquiry, preferably judicial but essentially independent, must be robust and critical in its analysis.
To reiterate; numerous elements of this saga elevate the issues to a matter of serious public interest.
And it must be noted at this juncture, that the party’s leader Simon Bridges insists he has acted appropriately and denies taking part in any political “hit job”.
Let’s examine what Evening Report has learned from contacts close to events.
Alleged details of events between Saturday-Sunday October 20-21
There is a txt-chain of events that investigators can forensically examine that are central to understanding who was involved in the sectioning of Jami-Lee Ross.
If the txts are examined they will determine if it is fact that the National Party MP, with whom Jami-Lee Ross had a three-year affair, rang the Police and that as a consequence of that call the Police used mental health laws to take Jami-Lee Ross into custody and contain him within the mental health unit at Counties Manukau Health.
Txts will also show whether it is fact that the female MP then called Simon Bridges’ chief of staff at 9:15pm on Saturday October 20 informing him of the events. If so Bridges’ office was aware of an alleged suicide attempt. Investigators would then be able to assess whether a txt message from Jami-Lee Ross’ psychologist, who Evening Report understands messaged Jami-Lee Ross at 9:28pm on Saturday October 20, asking if he was ok, and that the psychologist had minutes prior received a txt message from Jamie Gray, Simon Bridges’ chief of staff.
It is a matter of public record that Simon Bridges appeared on NewsHub’s AM Show on Tuesday October 23, denying all knowledge of events on the Saturday night – that is until a wider grouping within the National Party became privy to what had happened to Jami-Lee Ross.
It appears reasonable to form an opinion that Bridges’ chief of staff would have informed the leader of such an event. If he didn’t, why didn’t he inform Bridges?
The sectioning of Jami-Lee Ross ended a week where many National Party MPs, and a wider network of those loyal to the party, appeared to be actively orchestrating a coordinated campaign to destroy the so-called rogue MP’s political chances and to discredit his claims of corruption within the National Party leadership. Had Jami-Lee Ross abused his position as the senior whip within the party? It certainly appears so. Did he abuse the power he was afforded? Media reports would suggest this was so. Did he have an affair with at least two women? Yes. But it appears that the public attacks began, not at the time when senior members of the party were informed of Ross’ actions, but, once Ross began to attack the leadership. This is significant.
An Opposition’s Role As The Public’s Advocate
As senior representatives of New Zealand’s Legislature, leader Simon Bridges and deputy leader Paula Bennett can arguably be regarded as the public’s advocates within Parliament. Their job is to keep the Executive Government on its toes, challenge its policy and rationale, to be Parliament’s keepers of the public’s interest.
As such, the public deserves to know if the leaders, as a team or individually, conspired to destroy the political chances of an MP and former colleague, who they considered to have gone rogue, and who they knew was suffering a crisis of mental health so serious that it could have ended in death.
It is in consideration of the public interest, that this editorial is written.
We now know as fact, Jami-Lee Ross had a three year affair with a South Island-based National MP.[name withheld]. Like him, she has two children and was married.
While the affair was going ‘well’, contacts inside the National Party have told Evening Report that Jami-Lee encouraged Bridges to promote his lover above her standing and reputation in caucus, well above some high profile MPs like National’s Chris Bishop who are respected among colleagues and media and seen to have been doing their job well. The promotion was seen to give leverage, to sure up the numbers to stabilise Bridges’ and Bennett’s leadership team at a time when they sensed support was delicate.
Meanwhile, Jami-Lee Ross continued to pull in big donations from wealthy Chinese residents in his Botany electorate. As a reward, Bridges embedded him into his inner core, the top three. Politically, this is really an unsound move by a political leader. With Ross being senior whip, he is supposed to be directed by the leader to pull MPs into line, to do the leader’s bidding, and to do this without necessarily knowing the deep and dark details underlying the leader’s moves.
In effect, with Jami-Lee Ross becoming a central figure, knowing all the details, the dirt, the strategy and tactics, it centralised too much power into the whip position and elevated a real danger of a whip using the position for his own gain. To reiterate, this appears a seriously stupid move of Bridges and Bennett to pull a whip in on their machinations. And, in a significant contact’s view, it appears they risked this because Jami-Lee was pulling in the donor money.
Jami-Lee Ross had been on the rise for a time. Former Prime Minister John Key promoted him to the whips office. Then PM Bill English secured Ross’s rise by maintaining and elevating his whip role. Bridges and Bennett further empowered Jami-Lee Ross by cementing him into the whip position, a move that suggested National’s power-politicians were well satisfied with his service.
It’s hard to tell how far back it was when Jami-Lee Ross began to record Bridges. And, at this juncture, it’s difficult to know if he recorded Bennett as well. The public is left to fathom whether it was when his affair with the National MP went sour and perhaps Ross sensed Bennett having become close to her.
In any event, when Jami-Lee Ross fell out with his colleague and lover, sources say Bennett played a crucial role in the analysis of his conduct, in particular women who had allegedly been burned by Ross. Two women, contacts inside National state were staff of the National Party leader. The MP (whom Ross had a three-year affair with) and the two staff members are said by National Party contacts to be the subject of NewsRoom.co.nz’s investigation into Ross’ activities, an investigation that is believed to have spanned up to one year in duration. Evening Report raises this aspect as the public interest demands to consider whether it is reasonable to believe that two staffers in the leader’s office never told nor informed Bridges, or the chief of staff, that they were cooperating in a media investigation into the leader’s chief and senior whip?
Contacts state that Bennett gained the women’s confidence, received information so it could be prepared as part of a disciplinary process. Did Bennett choose to engage media with this information? If so, once media received the information, what involvement did the deputy leader have or continue to have, or engage with, the complainants and media?
Sources inside National state Bennett then seeded info about Jami-Lee Ross having had an affair. They point to her having hinted at behaviour unbecoming of a married member of Parliament during an interview before TV, radio and print journalists. Did she do this without Bridges knowing or being forewarned.
If true, in effect, this would have driven the narrative ahead of the leader. If so, it is reasonable to fathom that a senior politician would know Bridges would be forced to defend the character-attack campaign that appeared orchestrated and designed to destroy Ross. Amidst the firestorm, National MP Maggie Barry spoke out against Ross with significant indignation. This will have been digested by the public that National had expelled a human predator from its midst. It also gave the impression National’s female caucus members were unified. However, respected MP Nikki Kaye kept out of it. Why?
Next, Bridges was forced to field political journalists’ questions about breaking the old convention that you keep affairs and family issues under the covers.
Bridges was then compelled to inform media that he had “told off” his deputy leader for giving credence that an affair had been ongoing between Ross and a Nat MP. This made Bridges look even weaker.
The future of National’s leadership
National Party contacts suggest Bridges is positioned where he will be forced to absorb the political fallout for what is seen by some as a character assassination campaign gone wrong. One contact states that once Bridges is rendered useless, and the issue dies down, Bennett herself will be well positioned to remove Bridges as leader in 2019.
It is reasonable to form an opinion that senior National MP Judith Collins will also be available if the leadership were to fall vacant. Her popularity is again on the rise.
At this juncture, for Bridges and Bennett, it appears wise for them to expect more National Party dirt to emerge before the end of the year. Evening Report’s sources say: “ample dirt lingers just below the surface.”
For a party that once stated it had no factions, it certainly seems its personality factions are now in all-out political warfare.
Judith Collins’ star has been rising since she returned to the front-bench in opposition. And it has been bolstered by a favourable Colmar Brunton Poll. It’s fair to suggest she has laid heavy hits on Labour’s Housing Minister Phil Twyford. As a consequence, her standing within the caucus has improved. On investigation, it is clear she has not had the loyalty of Jami-Lee Ross since he was promoted by John Key. He, along with Mark Mitchell, then supported Bill English for the leadership. Bennett and Mitchell are politically close. It does appear that moves by some media to connect Jami-Lee Ross’ revelations with a Judith Collins plan as not based on fact.
While there’s an expectation among interested public that Collins will be the next leader, she will need the support of what’s left of National’s social conservatives and those loyal to Nikki Kaye.
For Collins to succeed, she will have to be seen to inoculate the party from damaging information that may be in the possession of Jami-Lee Ross. All the while, she, like Bennett, needs Bridges to continue to fail as a leader.
It is fair to accept, the recordings and damaging information are now with Cam Slater and Simon Lusk. It is also reasonable to suggest that Bridges is a disappointment to some who once supported his bid for leadership. Cam Slater is clearly appalled at what he refers to as a “hit job”.
Slater is adamant that he is not motivated by an agenda, nor by a pitch by a fiscal conservative faction to gain leadership of the National party. Rather he said, he is motivated to help an old friend who the current leadership moved to destroy. He added on his blog-site, if the current leadership continues “to lie” he will continue to reveal the truth.
Meanwhile, Jami-Lee Ross is being reassured and cared for by a mutual friend of his and Slaters who is a pastor with the Seventh Day Adventists.
Contacts say, with regard to Jami-Lee Ross and his National Party former lover and colleague, the three year affair was a relationship that in the end didn’t deliver what either banked on – despite promotions and connections and having benefitted politically from their association.
It’s fair to say, Jami-Lee Ross was out of his experiential depth and in part abusive from the point of view of how to handle political power, networks and consensual relationships.
Two other women who laid complaints about Ross, worked in the leader’s office.
Bridges is adamant he didn’t know about the abuse of power nor the complaints. Did Bennett know? At what point was she privy to the information?
One National Party contact said: “It defies reasonable belief that Bridges didn’t know.”
It is right that Bridges has initiated an inquiry into National’s culture. But that in itself falls short or what the public interest demands. Why? Because the inquiry reports back to Bridges, who as leader may well be one of the protagonists. Also, the report will not be released to the public which leaves it as a golden prize, the holy grail, for any journalist and, irrespective of who it damns or exonerates, will become a currency for any MP with leadership ambitions.
As it now stands, Bridges’ worst nightmare must be not knowing what Jami-Lee Ross recorded and at what point did he begin taping the National Party leader’s conversations.
If those recordings contain further embarrassing or damaging content and references, then he will be finished as leader. Bridges, as leader, even if he has a clear conscience, must be wracking his memory as to past conversations and comments while knowing the conversations may be in the hands of people with whom he has lost their trust.
And the question remains unanswered: Was Paula Bennett recorded as well?
If her actions are found by inquirers to have led an orchestrated political response to Jami-Lee Ross’ revelations, whether that be at the behest or otherwise of the current leader, then this will destroy any higher ambitions that she may have ever contemplated.
It follows, that if the report concludes that the rot inside National extends to its current leadership, then it may well be that Judith Collins will become the leader of the National Party, unopposed.
Whatever the future holds for the National Party, it is in everyone’s interests that an independent judicial investigation into this National affair be conducted in a spirit of openness and propriety.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Evening Report invites any individual connected to this analysis to have a right of reply.
Footnote: Interview between the author and Jami-Lee Ross on his role as a new National Party MP (August 13 2012):
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Police apologise to Nicky Hager for “dirty politics”
It’s been a long time coming, but Nicky Hager’s battle with the Police, who badly mistreated him when they investigated his Dirty Politics book in 2014, has finally come to an end. Victory for Hager comes in the form of the Police making him a significant apology and a substantial financial payout.
This is not just a win for Hager personally, but also for freedom of the press, for the ongoing vigilance against police authoritarianism, and the general fight against injustice. No doubt, the payout from the Police will now fund Hager to continue producing his important public interest journalism.
News of the apology and payout can be read in David Fisher’s report, Police pay Nicky Hager ‘substantial damages for unlawful search of his home in hunt for Dirty Politics hacker. In this, Fisher provides some background to today’s outcome: “The settlement comes almost four years after the publication of Dirty Politics, which alleged the office of former Prime Minister Sir John Key ran a dirty tricks campaign through right wing bloggers. Hager wrote the book after an anonymous source known only as Rawshark provided information said to have been hacked from Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater.”
Police then sought to discover who had hacked Slater’s computer and, although they didn’t suspect Hager himself, they raided his home, and also obtained information from banks, airlines and phone companies that Hager was a customer with.
The treatment Hager received was enough to unite many of the left and right in condemning the Police actions. I wrote back in 2015 about how many on the political right – such as Matthew Hooton and Rodney Hide – were highly supportive of Hager’s case – see: Libertarians against dirty politics.
Hager claimed that these Police actions were unlawful, and gained a High Court ruling that agreed with him – see, also, my 2015 roundup of this landmark case: Dirty Politics won’t die. This showed that many experts agreed about the need to have properly functioning mechanisms – especially investigative journalism – that hold the powerful to account, and that the police actions had undermined that mechanism.
It’s also worth noting that Hager’s daughter was the only person at her father’s house when the Police raided it, and she also received a settlement from the Police in 2016 – see RNZ’s Hager’s daughter’s police pay-out ‘a relief’.
For analysis of today’s settlement, see law professor Andrew Geddis’ blog post, Why the police’s apology to Nicky Hager matters. He concludes that what the Police did to Hager was “completely unreasonable and dangerous to our democracy. It should never have happened, and should never happen again”.
Geddis gives a comprehensive account of what the Police did wrong in this case. Here’s the most interesting part: “The police admit that they misled a court by omission into giving them apparent legal authority to raid the house of not a suspect in a crime, but a witness to it. That witness, they knew, was a working journalist whose efficacy depends upon being able to assure his sources… And in what is perhaps the most damning indictment of the police’s actions, they now admit that they told some of these third parties they wanted information about Mr Mr Hager because he was suspected of fraud and other criminal activities. This was what is known in legal circles as a complete and utter lie.”
In this interview, Hager elaborates on the positive impact that today’s settlement might have for public interest journalism: “What I’m hoping this decision will do is that people who’ve got really important information that matters to the public and matters in big issues won’t be too scared to give it to us. That’s what really matters, and we couldn’t have got a better result for that”.
Hager adds that “The PM and Judith Collins were very angry”, and the Police raid was meant to be “punishment”, “not for breaking the law, but for releasing information that powerful people didn’t want to come out.”
There’s been plenty of reaction to the settlement on Twitter, and here’s some of the more interesting responses: Nandor Tanczos (@NandorTanczos) Following on from the shambles & backtracking at the Defense Force over ‘Hit & Run’, today comes another vindication of Nicky Hagar and his work in ‘Dirty Politics’. This is an important outcome for anyone seeking to expose corruption and lies among the powerful.
Rachel Stewart (@RFStew) Everybody on the right of NZ politics will be having a septic, shitty little day. And I’m glad. You can’t buy integrity, and that’s what Nicky Hager has in spades.
Thomas Beagle (@thomasbeagle) So, what’s happening to the members of NZ Police who authorised and carried out the multiply illegal search of Nicky Hager? #TheNZAccountabilityDeficit
Meg de Ronde (@MegdeRonde) Very pleased & proud to see this outcome for Hager & for human rights in NZ. Thanks again to all the amazing people that donated to the Givealittle so we could support this legal action. We all did it!
Felix Geiringer (@BarristerNZ) It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life to act for Nicky on the #DirtyPolitics case. I will never meet a person with more integrity.
Alex Coleman (@ShakingStick) Hager is lucky he’s not on twitter to get inundated with all the apologies from the people who said on here that the raid on his house was absolutely fair game and that he was just being a sook about something he should have expected
Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) A victory for press freedom in Aotearoa. The police investigation into Hager had the potential to cause a chilling effect on NZ journalism. Instead, this outcome will hopefully have a chilling effect on future police intimidation of reporters
Lew (@LewSOS) Nicky Hager still the undisputed champion. Nobody can lay a glove on him, try as they might.
Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) Further thought on the Hager outcome: this, coupled with the NZDF’s dishonesty regarding Hit & Run, is exactly the reason why people warn against vesting sec services & law enforcement with easily abused powers. These organisations can and frequently do become politicised
The politicians haven’t provided much reaction yet. But Shane Cowlishaw quotes National leader Simon Bridges: “Look, if the police stuffed up and they got the law wrong, then the apology is the right thing to do. In terms of compensation where that goes, again, I haven’t seen the detail but there’s a pretty well-worn legal track for that in case law, and I think that’s where the answer should lie” – see: Hager triumphs as police capitulate.
Of course, Hager’s victory has involved much help from others. For example, his initial legal action against the Police was made possible by some activists crowdfunding through a Give-a-Little page for some of his legal costs, which raised $65k, and then US journalist Glenn Greenwald raised another $21k.
Finally, this column requires something of a disclosure from the author – because I have championed Nicky Hager’s case, being supportive of his journalistic work, and of his rights. I was an “expert witness” in the legal case that Hager took against the Police. And last year, I wrote in tribute to Hager’s work on the eve of the release of his Hit and Run book, co-written with Jon Stephenson, in which I explain why such work is badly needed in New Zealand: “The real value of Hager’s work is that it enhances the democratic process. His research is usually on the powerful in society, and helps us understand how that power is used. Of course it’s the nature of the powerful that they seek to wield their influence without raising public awareness. But in a democracy we need to know how society really works, why decisions are made, and how they are influenced” – see: Why we need another Nicky Hager book.
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.
‘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.