Indonesian police arrest more than 500 over West Papua flag demos

Hundreds of Papuan Students Alliance (AMP) in march in Surabaya to commemorate December 1, a day they consider to be West Papua liberation day, on Saturday. Image: Wahyoe Boediwardhana/jakarta Post

By Arnold Belau in Jayapura and Wahyoe Boediwardhana in Surabaya

More than 500 Papuans in several cities across Indonesia and West Papua were arrested following rallies at the weekend marking December 1 to commemorate what many Papuans claim to be the birth of West Papua nation in 1961.

The lawyer of the arrested Papuans, Veronica Koman, said in a statement on Saturday that 537 people were arrested in Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara, Ternate in North Maluku, Manado in North Sulawesi, Makassar in South Sulawesi, Jayapura, Asmat and Waropen in Papua and Surabaya in East Java.

Among the total, 322 were arrested in Surabaya.

READ MORE: Nationalist militia attack Papuan rally in Surabaya

In Papua, 90 people were arrested in separate places and times.

On Friday, a day before the rallies, joint forces of the Indonesian Military and the National Police searched the headquarters of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) in Kampung Vietnam in Jayapura.

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The joint force also arrested Larius Heluka on Friday.

The following day, the joint force arrested 89 people in Abepura in Jayapura municipality, in separate places in Jayapura regency and in Yapen regency. As of Sunday, all 90 had been released by the police.

Kupang arrests
In Kupang, the police arrested 18 people early Saturday morning.

East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Inspector General Raja Erizman said the Papuans were not arrested but “secured and questioned”.

“I have ordered [Kupang Police chief] to treat them well,” Raja said Saturday.

In Surabaya, which saw one of the biggest December 1 rallies, a clash occurred between about 300 people grouped under the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) and other groups that accused the Papuans of “committing treason”.

Seventeen Papuans were injured, with some sustaining head wounds.

The Papuan students in Surabaya made a public speech, calling on Papuans to not remain silent when it came to discrimination and restrictions on their freedom of speech. They also campaigned for self-determination for Papuans’ future.

However, the situation became tense when a group consisting of around 200 people from several mass organisations, including the Communication Forum of Indonesian Veterans Children (FKPPI) and Pancasila Youth (PP), arrived on the scene to stage a protest against AMP.

Clashing camps
The two camps launched verbal attacks at each other, which escalated into a physical altercation.

“At first, this rally ran peacefully, until we were blocked in front of the Grahadi building and then came the Pancasila Youth mass organization, which intimidated us and turned the situation into an [altercation],” AMP human rights lawyer Veronica Koman said after the incident on Saturday.

The East Java Police and Surabaya Police deployed 1055 police personnel, aided by two Army groups and the Surabaya Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), to disperse the two clashing camps.

Koman said the AMP had respected the aspirations of the mass organisations, but the counterprotesters should not have incited the riot by throwing bottles and sharpened bamboo at the students.

AMP spokesperson Dorlince Iyowau said the Papuans only demanded the right to decide their own fate.

“Our main demand is the right to decide our own fate, as a democratic solution for West Papua. We want Papuans to have their own political rights,” Dolince said.

‘Committing treason’
Meanwhile, PP Surabaya Secretary Baso Juherman accused the alliance of committing treason.

“The rally [by the alliance] was clearly a treasonous act. The PP took to the streets to prevent them [from committing treason], because the rally hurt Surabaya residents,” Juherman said.

The coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) in Surabaya, Fatkhul Khoir, called on the release of the 322 people in a statement on Sunday.

Arnold Belau and Wahyoe Boediwardhana were reporting for The Jakarta Post.

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Pacific’s brightest minds gather for Oceans and Islands research summit

By Blessen Tom

In a bold and innovative move for researchers, the two-day inaugural Oceans and Islands conference today brought together the brightest minds of the Pacific to demonstrate what they do.

Oceans and Islands – a showcase for the region hosted by the NZ Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) – was opened by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, this morning.

“I really do have the privilege of being able to witness the great contribution that Pacific leaders, academics and communities make to Aotearoa and globally,” the minister said.

READ MORE: Pacific aid mapping tool aimed at improving transparency in region

Pacific Peoples Minister Carmel Sepuloni … “critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making”. Images: Blessen Tom/PMC

She acknowledged the excellence of Pacific research in New Zealand and welcomed the establishment of research agencies such as Moana Research and commended the leadership of Dr Teuila Percival, Jcinta Fa’alili-Fidow and Dudley Gentles.

The minister also shared some of the research initiatives that she is directly involved with such as the extended funding to the growing up in New Zealand study and Treasury’s Pasifika Economic Report.

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“It is critical that Pacific people are meaningfully included in thought leadership and decision making. We must be the authors of our own solutions, and conferences like this support us towards that end,” she added.

Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa … struggles faced by Pacific researchers. Image: David Robie/PMC

Many struggles
Toeolesulusulu Associate Professor Damon Salesa, who was recently appointed pro vice-chancellor (Pacific) of the University of Auckland, said: “Pacific research and Pacific knowledge matters.”

“It’s not simply research about the Pacific, by the Pacific that makes it Pacific research. It’s much more than that…and it has faced many struggles,” he added.

He talked about the struggles that researchers faced, such as not being properly resourced, the lack of opportunities to succeed, and the lack of proper recognition.

“These are the struggles NZIPR embarked on,” he said in a tribute to the institute that he was the founding director of. The achievements of NZIPR were:

• Creating a formal research programme – “five research programmes will be signed off completed or published by the end of this year.”

• Disseminating research through both online and offline platforms, and establishing a research repository to make visible the different kinds of knowledge.

• Building research capability and the research recognition of a diverse range of researchers that includes 12 scholarships and sponsorship for individual researchers and research projects.

He also remarked that NZIPR had “achieved so much so quickly”.

Indigenous principles
Dr David Welchman Gegeo led the third keynote session when he gave full recognition to indigenous ethical principles that guide the social construction of knowledge in Pacific island communities.

“Why do we keep doing research on Pacific communities?” and “Are we alone?” asked David Gegeo.

“Pacific Island’s epistemic communities are not alone in the quest for the indigenisation or oceanisation of research and knowledge construction in the Pacific,” he said.

“I think we have a better chance of answering some of our lingering questions in research when we work together as this team.”

He advocated the working together of university epistemic community, metro-centrist epistemic community and Pacific village epistemic community for research and construction of pacific knowledge.

Dr Gegeo holds a research position in the Office of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the Solomon Islands National University.

Professor Kapua’ala Sproat … proactive indigenous responses to “pernicious impacts of global warming”. Image: Blessen Tom/PMC

Dr Kapua’ala Sproat is a professor of law at the University of Hawai’i’s Richardson School of Law and the director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawai’ian Law.

Her keynote explored indigenous people’s proactive responses to the pernicious impacts of global warming.

‘Sense of culture’
“I’m incredibly grateful that I grew up with a strong sense of self and culture because I think that really has rooted both myself and but also my work,” she said.

Professor Sprout examined Native Hawai’ians’ potential deployment of local laws that embody restorative justice principles to fashion meaningful remedies for the environmental and cultural damage as a result of the global climate crisis.

“Our identity as indigenous people is inextricably tied to these islands and our natural and cultural resources” said Professor Sprout and “Global Warming threatens our island home and our identity as a people”.

The final keynote session of the day was addressed by Leina Tucker-Masters, Eliza Puna and by Dr Jamaima Tiataia- Seath.

Their presentation canvassed the journeys of three Pacific women researchers throughout their academic careers.

“Engaging in research as an undergraduate student helped me connect with my Pacific culture while at university,” said Leina Tucker-Masters, a medical student at the University of Auckland.

Research methodologies
Tucker-Masters talked about her experience with Pacific research methodologies and how they influenced literature.

“I learned about Pacific health initiatives that use Pacific ways of thinking to heal Pacific people”.

“Postgraduate research gives you an opportunity to carry out very ethnic specific research and it allows for in depth engagement and helps to bridge academia and our communities,” said Eliza Puna, a doctoral candidate in Pacific Studies at Auckland University.

Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath is currently co-head of school and head of Pacific studies, Te Wananga o Waipapa, School of Māori and Pacific Studies, University of Auckland.

She talked about her experience as one of six panelists on the government’s Mental Health and Addiction Enquiry.

The Oceans and Islands conference will conclude tomorrow evening.

Sri Krishnamurthi and Blessen Tom of the Pacific Media Centre are working as part of a PMC partnership with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research.

NZIPR research manager Dr Evelyn Marsters and one of the keynote speakers, Professor David Gegeo of the Solomon Islands, at the Oceans and Islands conference in Auckland today. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nauru 19 to appear in first sitting of nation’s new Court of Appeal

T-shirts worn by family and supporters of the 19 Nauruans who were prosecuted by government for staging a protest outside of Parliament in 2015. Image: RNZP/Nauru 19/ Facebook

By RNZ Pacific

The group known as the Nauru 19 will go back to court next week in what will be the first sitting of the Nauru Court of Appeal.

The Nauru 19 were charged over an anti-government protest more than three years ago and are facing an appeal from the Nauru government.

The group, which includes a former Nauru president, had sought a permanent stay on legal proceedings against them, arguing the trial process dragged on too long and that the government had not met a court directed order to pay some of the expenses of the group’s Australian lawyers.

Justice Geoff Muecke, who was brought in by the Nauru government to hear the case, granted a permanent stay on the proceedings, saying the government’s conduct throughout had been a “shameful affront to the rule of law”.

Now the government is appealing this decision.

The Nauru Court of Appeal was set up after the government secretly ended its use of the Australian High Court as Nauru’s appellate court earlier this year.

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The Nauru 19 believe this move was another attempt to deny them a fair trial.

The judges hearing the appeal are high ranking members of Pacific judiciaries – Tonga’s Chief Justice Michael Scott, Kiribati Chief Justice John Muria and PNG Supreme Court judge Nicholas Kirriwom.

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

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France tax rebate to boost New Caledonia’s AirCalin airliner fleet

An AirCalin promotion poster at Tontouta International Airport, New Caledonia. Image: David Robie/PMC

By RNZ Pacific

New Caledonia’s international airline, AirCalin, has been given tax rebates by France to buy two new Airbus airliners.

The French High Commission in Noumea announced the Economics and Finance Ministry had approved the concession for the purchase of two Airbus A330-900neo planes, which are expected to be delivered in May next year.

The statement did not say how much the airline had saved.

It said this support would help AirCalin develop its activities, be it for tourism or medical evacuations.

The statement said this was also a sign of the French state’s support for the airline and for New Caledonia.

AirCalin flies to destinations in the Pacific, including Auckland in New Zealand, and also provides a service to Japan to link passengers from and to France.

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

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PM blames Bougainville missing budget on ‘administrative error’

The Bougainville flag … a critical year for the referendum on independence next year. Image: Bougainville News

By RNZ Pacific

The Bougainville President, John Momis, says he has been assured by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, that the absence of a vital grant from the 2019 Budget was an “administrative error”.

Both leaders met last week in Port Moresby

PNG’s budget, announced last week, makes no mention of the Restoration and Development Grant which is constitutionally guaranteed under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

READ MORE: PNG budget reports lack transparency, says economist

Momis said Bougainville relied on this grant for essential projects and a failure by the national government to pay it would reflect badly on both Port Moresby and Bougainville.

The budget did feature a cut to recurrent funding for the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

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Next year, 2019, will be a critical year with a referendum on Bougainville’s long term political future scheduled to take place in June, Momis said.

The PNG and Bougainville governments must ensure that together they provide the funding and support needed to allow the vote to take place and for the important work of peace building to continue, he said.

O’Neill has promised to rectify the issues.

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

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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.

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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

PNG governor may block Australian naval base bid on Manus

Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin … critical of Port Moresby government’s lack of consultation. Image: RNZ Pacific

By RNZ Pacific

The governor of Papua New Guinea’s Manus Province has hinted that he could obstruct Australia’s bid to build a naval port on Manus Island.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on November 1 that his country would fund the development of a deepwater base at the old Lombrum Naval Base used during the Second World War.

The move is seen as a counter to China’s aspirations to develop the site.

READ MORE: Scott Waide: How China is several moves ahead in Port Moresby

Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin told Reuters news agency that he had not been consulted on the development and that it would have to benefit the local residents.

“I have my people living on the island and we are the ones affected,” Benjamin said.

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“The government might have the right but if we decide to put our foot down, there will be problems.”

The Manus governor has previously been critical of central government’s lack of consultation over the Australian-run refugee detention centres based on the island.

Military outpost
Manus is PNG’s northernmost and smallest province with 50,000 people and an Australian-funded navy base there could provide a military outpost for Canberra in the Pacific.

Prime Minister Morrison has said Australian vessels would be regular visitors.

RNZ Pacific’s Johnny Blades reports from APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) that the United States will join Australia in expanding the Lombrum Naval Base on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

US vice-president Mike Pence made the announcement at the APEC leader’s summit in Port Moresby yesterday.

Pence, who is representing his country at APEC in the absence of President Donald Trump, used his speech to assert US partnership with Pacific Islands and other allies in the wider region.

Without elaborating on details, he confirmed the US would partner with PNG and Australia on a joint naval base on Manus, reported Blades.

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

The newly built APEC Haus in Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby which is hosting the 2018 APEC leaders summit this weekend. Image: Johnny Blades/RNZ Pacific

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Fijians urged to vote after ‘worrying’ turnout in stormy weather

Heavy rain and a flood alert remain in force today as Fiji citizens braved the wild and wet conditions to vote in the general election. Video: FBC News

By RNZ Pacific

More than 550,000 people were due to vote today in the election as wet and stormy weather hit Fiji.

“As at midday we are not doing very well in terms of turnout,” said the Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem.

He said some of the more worrying turnouts reported so far were in Lami in Suva and in the west of the main island where only six out of a total of 181 voters had turned out at one polling station.

“My advice to all voters is to come out and vote,” Saneem said.

The Fijian Elections Office also said it had received complaints from some areas that bus services were not operating.

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“My mother is 85 years old. Our road is flooded. No transport available. Polling centre at Visama Sanatan Dharam Primary. She wants to vote but weather is not favourable. Any help?” one voter asked on the Fijian Elections Office Facebook page.

The office had managed to contact the companies and urged them to follow an agreement to provide transport to polling stations, Saneem said.

Tropical disturbance
Fiji has just entered the cyclone season and a tropical disturbance has formed to the northwest of the country.

Officials have also been urging people to take their umbrellas and brave the bad weather.

It is a public holiday in Fiji, which is going to the polls for just the second time in 12 years.

Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, said he would be disappointed if he did not win today’s election.

Bainimarama was speaking as he cast his vote at Vatuwaqa Primary School in the capital Suva.

“We’re hoping to win the majority so we can form the next government,” he told journalists.

Other political party leaders also cast their ballot at various polling stations this morning.

Sitiveni Rabuka was photographed standing in the rain in a queue with other voters at his polling station.

There are strict conditions around the media during the blackout period but journalists have been allowed to photograph all party leaders as they head to the ballot box.

Voters have a choice of 233 candidates, from six political parties, vying for 51 seats, and they have been urged to double check where they are due to vote or risk being turned away.

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

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Fiji security forces on standby as nation ready for voting

Fiji police … on alert for today’s general election. Image: Mailife

By RNZ Pacific

Fiji’s security forces are standing by in case of unrest as Fiji goes to the polls.

More than 550,000 voters are due to vote today at polling stations around the country.

The police chief issued a statement on the eve of the election saying any attempts to disrupt the election process would not be taken lightly.

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho said the force was aware of rumours circulating about “rogue groups” working towards disrupting the polls and the post election period.

“We are well aware of rumours circulating of rogue groups working towards disrupting the voting process on Election Day and the post-election period if results are not favourable,” Brigadier-General Qiliho said in a statement.

“We are warning rumour mongers to stop creating unnecessary fear among the general populace and any attempts to disrupt the Election Process will not be taken lightly.”

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Brigadier General Qiliho said the police force had the full support of Fiji’s military forces and together they “are closely monitoring the security landscape”.

“Their officers are ready to be deployed at any time to assist us if there is information of unrest that could impact the Election process,” the police chief said.

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

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Report fake page to Facebook plea from Fiji Times editor

Fiji Times appeals to readers on its website today to report the fake page to Facebook. Image: PMC

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Fiji Times has appealed to readers to report a fake Facebook account purporting to be the official page of the daily newspaper.

In a message posted on the newspaper’s website today, editor-in-chief Fred Wesley says: “We need your support to report this FAKE page https://web.facebook.com/Fiji-Times-254313332110085/ to Facebook so it can be removed.”

The fake page ran a false news item claiming that opposition SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka had been barred from contesting tomorrow’s general election. In fact, a High Court ruling yesterday cleared Rabuka to contest the election to the jubilation of a crowd waiting outside the Suva courtroom.

The fake news item said:

“The Social Liberal Democratic Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka has been disqualified from running for the 2018 Fijian General Elections.

“All votes cast for Rabuka’s number will not be counted now …”

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The official Facebook account of the newspaper can be accessed on this link: https://web.facebook.com/fijitimesonline/

The Fake Fiji Times FB page. Image: PMC The true Fiji Times FB page. Image: PMC

False news warning
Radio NZ Pacific reports that election authorities in Fiji are warning about false news stories in the run-up to tomorrow’s election.

They were telling people to report any so-called fake news.

Social media users have found fake media sites with items about visa-free access to Australia and a ban on celebrating Diwali.

Ashwin Raj, of Fiji’s media authority, said there was so much fake news that audiences found it hard to decide which was fact or fiction.

Raj said people should report fake news.

A two-day campaign blackout started at midnight on Sunday, but the complaints to the elections office said some material remained on banners and car stickers.

Offenders risk the chance of a hefty fine and up to 10 years in jail.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media