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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Vanuatu steps up UN bid for West Papua rights, new referendum

West Papua has been sidestepped by both the the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Forum. But, reports James Halpin of Asia Pacific Journalism, Vanuatu is undeterred as leading champion for the West Papuan cause and is pressing for United Nations support.

After the failure of the Pacific Islands Forum to move on the issue of West Papuan self-determination earlier this month, Vanuatu is now taking the issue to the United Nations next week

Vanuatu raised the plight of political prisoners charged with treason at a UN working group of arbitrary detention and involuntary disappearances, reports RNZ.

Ninety three West Papuans have been arrested this month for their involvement in peaceful protests.

READ MORE: Contrasting accounts of Indonesian genocide and betrayal in West Papua

APJS NEWSFILE

Simply peacefully raising the Morning Star flag representing an independent West Papua risks 15 years’ imprisonment.

Vanuatu has traditionally been the major supporter for West Papuan self-determination but has recently stepped up his diplomacy with the appointment of Lora Lini, daughter of the late founding prime minister Father Walter Lini, as special envoy for West Papua.

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Port Vila wants West Papua to be added to the UN decolonisation list. Netherlands New Guinea had previously been on the UN decolonisation list but was annexed by Indonesia in 1969 in controversial circumstances.

The UN decolonisation list, or officially the United Nations List of Non-Self-Governing Territories, engages member states in charge of those territories to move towards granting self-determination.

Tokelau on list
Currently, Tokelau, which is a dependency of New Zealand, is on the decolonisation list.

Support from the Melanesian Spearhead Group bloc is divided with the Papua New Guinean government declaring this week it would not support Vanuatu, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

The Pacific Islands Forum has failed to bring change for the issue of self-determination and West Papua.

“I can’t say there’s been a huge amount of success,” says Marie Leadbeater, spokesperson of West Papua Action Auckland and author of a recent book See No Evil: New Zealand’s Betrayal of the People of West Papua.

Vanuatu brought a draft resolution for the UN to the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru, reports the Vanuatu Daily Post.

The draft was labelled the “Realisation of the right of Papuan peoples’ self-determination in the former colony of the Netherlands New Guinea (West New Guinea)”.

However, the West Papua issue was not supported by other Pacific nations and was left off the outcomes document of the Forum, reports Asia Pacific Report.

Limited goals
The Forum has been a place to push for limited goals, such as fact-finding when it comes to West Papua.

Leadbeater says New Zealand following Vanuatu’s lead could be a “game changer”, but it is not willing to challenge Indonesian sovereignty.

Similarly, on the recent issue of returning the Chagos archipelago to Mauritius, New Zealand did not support the case to be considered by the International Criminal Court.

Leadbeater is critical of the Ardern government not shifting policy towards West Papua self-determination, “realistically, so far they haven’t.”

At a meeting in Nauru as part of the Forum, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said New Zealand recognised Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua.

Peters added that New Zealand would follow PNG’s lead as its nearest neighbour, reports the Vanuatu Daily Post.

“I think as a Polynesian, or Melanesian or Pacific concept, the first person I’d be consulting on an issue like that is the nearest neighbour to the issue that might be a problem, namely PNG.”

Support from NZ MPs
However, Leadbeater did identify a large number of NZ government MPs who would support West Papuan self-determination, including all of the Greens and high profile Labour MP Louisa Wall.

Associate Professor Stephen Hoadley of the University of Auckland says that since West Papua’s integration into Indonesia in 1969, the cards have been stacked against them.

“You have to go back to 1963. The UN urged Indonesia to hold an act of free association. Indonesia allegedly manipulated the vote.”

Indonesia claimed that Papuans were not advanced enough to deal with democracy and instituted a meeting of tribal elders.

“They handpicked tribal leaders. This vote was contested by local folk who accused Indonesia of manipulation, bribes, and intimidation.”

After the flawed vote, Indonesia instituted a policy of transmigration into West Papua where Javanese were moved from Java to colonise less populated provinces around Indonesia, including West Papua. This policy was ended by current president Joko Widodo in 2015.

However, discrimination against the indigenous Melanesians had become endemic. For example, the courts were stacked with Javanese judges and Javanese got favourable preference.

Little appetite for criticism
Because of examples such as this, an independence movement sprang up in 1963 called the Free Papua Movement.

In the realm of international relations there was no appetite to criticise Indonesia in the 1960s.

Indonesia was sidelined during the cold war and US mining multinationals hadn’t started drilling in the province yet, says Professor Hoadley.

But, things haven’t changed in the past 50 years.

Dr Hoadley says liberal Western countries such as the Australia, New Zealand, United States, and the United Kingdom are status quo powers.

“If you redraw one boundary, then all boundaries are up for change. Better to leave things as they are.”

A consensus among Western nations is that Indonesia has “things under control” and their transgressions against human rights in West Papua are not bad enough to consider attention, claims Dr Hoadley.

Success story
After the end of the Suharto regime in 1999, Indonesia was seen as a success story; a Muslim country that has adopted political parties, elections, and freedom of the press.

“The US thinking is that they’re on a good track and we shouldn’t criticise them too much,” he says.

Ominously, nothing has come of the Rohingya genocide and there is no foreseeable future for West Papuan self-determination unless outside international influence or domestic upheaval forces Indonesia to start the process of decolonising.

James Halpin is a student journalist on the Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies (Journalism) reporting on the Asia-Pacific Journalism course at AUT University.

West Papuan flag-raising at an undisclosed location. Image: Wenslaus OPM/FB

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Plea to Jokowi: Free all Maluku and West Papuan political prisoners

A study, conducted by Indonesia Law Reform Institute cofounder Anugrah Rizki Akbari, concludes that Indonesia has an “overcriminalisation” problem, with hundreds of harmless activities having been classified as crimes. Image: Shutterstock/Jakarta Post

OPINION: By Glenn Fredly in Jakarta

The remarks of renowned American philosopher John Dewey, “If you want to establish some conception of a society, go find out who is in jail”, has been quoted many times to elaborate on the state of freedom in many parts of the world, including Indonesia.

Indeed, reports about people being imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their views or faith are rife in the country.

Looking closely at prisons in Indonesia today, at least 20 people have been locked up for peacefully expressing their views about religion and politics, according to Amnesty International.

Eleven of them were charged with “blasphemy or defamation of religion” and the rest were peaceful pro-independence political activists.

Papua would probably quickly pop up in our minds when talking about the province with the highest number of imprisoned peaceful political activists. Indeed the easternmost province is home to an active armed pro-independence movement.

In western Indonesia, such “insurgence” ended after the government secured a peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement in 2005.

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List of punishers
However, Amnesty International has also identified the underdeveloped province of Maluku, which currently has no record of an armed pro-independence movement, on top of the list of punishers of peaceful political activists.

Eight people from Maluku are serving prison sentences for what the government calls makar (treason). They are Johan Teterissa, Ruben Saiya, Johanis Saiya, Jordan Saiya, John Markus, Romanus Batseran, Jonathan Riry and Pieter Yohanes.

The Benang Raja flag of Maluku … outlawed. Image: File

Their only offence is unfurling the Benang Raja flag, a symbol of the aspiration for Maluku’s independence, on June 29, 2007.

Johan Teterissa was leading a group of 22 activists who performed the traditional war dance cakalele in front of then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Maluku capital of Ambon, before they were all arrested for unfurling the flag.

If Indonesia respects rights to freedom of expression, they should not spend a single day in prison for such peaceful activity. Yet they were thrown behind bars for between 15 and 20 years. Johan was among those denied medical care while at least four of the activists have died in prison.

The Morning Star flag of West Papua … outlawed. Image: SIBC

Amnesty International considers Johan and all those arrested like him prisoners of conscience, who are jailed for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Their arrests highlight the police’s failure to respect these rights.

Adding insult to injury, in March 2009, Johan and dozens of prisoners of conscience were transferred to prisons in Java, more than 2,500 kilometers away from their home. The isolation meant family visits were almost impossible, which is unnecessary, costly and cruel on prisoners and their families.

Maximum security prison
On November 28, 2016, I had a chance to visit Johan Teterissa at a maximum security prison in Nusakambangan, Central Java, with the help of Amnesty International and the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute as part of a campaign to release all prisoners of conscience in Indonesia.

As a Maluku native, I have been enjoying the fruits of freedom in Indonesia after the fall of Suharto in 1998 through my work as an artist. I have been able to freely express my thoughts through songs peacefully, but many in Maluku like Johan and other activists still lack this basic right to freely express political aspiration.

This is why I am calling on the government to release Johan and his friends and grant them amnesty.

Johan and his friends posed no threats to the president when unfurling the “forbidden” flag, but the government at that time considered the act treason. Their arrests clearly tarnish Indonesia’s image as a free country.

The administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo must correct this mistake to restore Indonesia?s so-called freedoms.

Differences in political views must be clearly respected and expressing it peacefully in public never constitutes a crime. There was recent progress when all the prisoners from Maluku were transferred to a prison in the province, enabling easier access to visits for their families.

The transfer also means the administration is open enough to respect different political views.

Amnesty needed
However, relocating them to a Maluku prison is not enough. They must be granted amnesty. Through amnesty, the Jokowi administration could restore Indonesia’s image as a country where anyone can easily express their ideas freely through peaceful means without fearing criminal charges.

In early 2015, I had an opportunity to meet President Jokowi with other artists. I personally asked the President about the fate of political prisoners from Maluku and Papua. I was happy with his firm answer that he would free all political prisoners as soon as possible.

Shortly after, President Jokowi released and granted clemency to six Papuan political prisoners.

I am sure the transfer of the Maluku political activists is part of his plan to release and grant them amnesty. By doing so the President will rebuild trust and public confidence in the eastern part of Indonesia in the government.

I personally believe the peaceful call for independence derives from political frustration among activists in Maluku. One important fact is that Aboru, the village where Johan and other Maluku activists are from, is still very much underdeveloped and neglected by the central and local government.

The government must tackle the root causes instead of arresting them for peacefully expressing their political aspirations. The President must understand this background, so he would be convinced that granting amnesty is the right course of action to solve this case.

I am confident that President Jokowi will walk his talk to release and grant amnesty to all political prisoners in Papua and Maluku in the near future. So when he is asked “who is in jail?? he can confidently say Indonesia no longer has political prisoners there.

Glenn Fredly is a musician and campaigner for freedom of expression. This article was first published in The Jakarta Post.

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Indonesian police arrest 49 in attack, vandalising of Papuan dormitory

The 49 arrested Papuan students in Surabaya police station after the protest. Image: Suara Papua

By Bastian Tebai in Surabaya

Indonesian police last night arrested 49 Papuan students who live at the Kamasan Papuan Dormitory in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya and they are being held at the district police headquarters (Polrestabes).

There were two reasons for the arrests, according to information gathered by Suara Papua news service.

First, opposition by mass organisations (ormas) to planned peaceful demonstrations rejecting the 1962 New York Agreement which were held earlier this morning, in which the Papuan student dormitory was the gathering point for protesters.

Second, the residents of the dormitory refused to put up the national Indinesian flag in front of the dormitory as part of the August 17 national celebrations of Indonesian independence tomorrow because they said they “did not feel part of” the Indonesian state.

Local residents, the ormas and police ended up forcing the Papuan students to fly the red-and-white Indonesian flag.

Yesterday afternoon, Papuan students were involved in a clash with a combined group of police and ormas who vandalised and then demolished the front gate of the Papuan dormitory.

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A number of ormas joined police in the incident, including the militant Patriot Garuda, the Pancasila Youth (Pemuda Pancasila) and the Bastions of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (Benteng NKRI) groups.

According to information gathered by the Surabaya Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), these “reactionary” groups earlier attacked the Papuan students who were refusing to put up the national flag.

Students defend themselves
The Papuan students living at the dormitory tried to defend themselves and, according to several media reports, one ormas member was injured by a sharp instrument.

Since then, the dormitory has been surrounded by police and “reactionary ormas”. Later in the evening, police arrived and tried to arrest several Papuan students resulting in an argument that continued until 11pm last night.

In the end, all of the Papuan students – 49 people – were taken away and held at the Surabaya district police office.

Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) secretary-general Albert Mungguar told Suara Papua the incident that occurred in Surabaya was the same as that which was carried out by the Indonesian military against the people of Papua.

“Nationalism is not something that can be forced. Nationalism is related to ideology, it is born out of the people’s consciousness.” Mungguar said.

“If today the Papuan people and Papuan students don’t want to fly the red-and-white flag, what should be done by the state and its citizens is to ask, why don’t Papuan students have a sense of Indonesian nationalism, not to pressure them, force them, like they were possessed by the Devil, enforcing their view though acts of violence.”

Unconditional release
Regarding the 49 Papuan students, who were still being held at the Surabaya district police office today, the AMP is demanding their unconditional release in the name of upholding human rights and the principles of democracy.

“We condemn the repressive actions by police, in this case the Surabaya Polrestabes and reactionary ormas. And we call for the immediate release of our 49 comrades who were arrested for no rational reason,” said Mungguar.

Earlier in the day, simulations actions were held in several cities in Java and Bali coordinated by the AMP rejecting the New York Agreement which was signed on August 15, 1962.

Pacific Media Centre notes:
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. Under this agreement, 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-called “Act of Free Choice” in 1969 in which 1025 hand-picked Papuans “voted” at gun-point for the territory remain part of Indonesia.

Bastian Tebai is a Suara Papua journalist.

Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Asrama Papua di Surabaya Dikepung, 49 Penghuni Diangkut ke Polrestabes“.

The wrecked entrance to the Kamasan Papuan Dormitory in Surabaya, Indonesia. Image: Suara Papua

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

West Papuans launch quake appeal for survivors in PNG Highlands

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: West Papuans launch quake appeal for survivors in PNG Highlands

A 100 candles vigil was held in the Papuan capital city of Port Numbay (Jayapura) this week and people gathered to raise funds and donations following Papua New Guinea’s devastating earthquake. Video: Free West Papua Campaign

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

West Papuans have set up their own Papua New Guinea Earthquake Appeal in solidarity with their fellow Melanesians across the border following last month’s devastating Highlands earthquake with more than 100 deaths.

On Tuesday, a candlelit vigil was held in the Papuan capital city of Jayapura, raising awareness and financial support for the people of Papua New Guinea.

In a media release, the organisers appealed “to all Papuans from all walks of life to participate in solidarity with our Melanesian brothers in Papua New Guinea who are stricken by the disaster”.

This message came from Benny Wenda, chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), which initiated the appeal:

Dear friends,

Following my message of condolence earlier this month after the devastating earthquake in Papua New Guinea, the situation has tragically further deteriorated and now over 100 people have died and over 300,000 people have been left without shelter.

In response to this, we the people of West Papua are standing shoulder to shoulder with our wantoks and brothers and sisters across the border in Papua New Guinea in an act of Melanesian solidarity from Sorong to Samarai. Fundraising is taking place across West Papua and a 100 candle vigil will be held in support of the people of Papua New Guinea.

As fellow Melanesians, we the people of West Papua especially feel the pain and suffering of our people on the other side of the border but as fellow human beings we can all feel such pain and we all know that it is right to support people in need. Therefore, I am urging everyone around the world to please help support the ULMWP’s PNG Earthquake Appeal and in doing so, support the people of Papua New Guinea in their time of need.

Please do donate generously here to the ULMWP’s PNG Earthquake Appeal fund, the bank details of which can be found below:

SWIFT Code: BOSPPGPM
BSB Number: 088943 ,
Account Name: Peter Yossi Kovempa
Acc No :007008699618
BSP Bank, Boroko Branch Port Moresby

All proceeds will go directly to the people of Papua New Guinea in their earthquake relief effort. The people of Papua New Guinea have consistently stood by their brothers and sisters in West Papua during our suffering and struggle for self-determination. It is only right that we stand by them in their time of need too, and we urge people around the world to do the same.

Thank you very much.

66 arrested, 4 beaten in pro-Papuan independence rallies across Indonesia

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: 66 arrested, 4 beaten in pro-Papuan independence rallies across Indonesia

Free West Papua rally to reject “Operation Trikora” in Malang, East Java, Indonesia. Image: AMP

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

West Papuan students have demonstrated to reject Indonesia’s occupation and were joined by an unprecedented wave of solidarity from people across Indonesia, reports the Free West Papua Campaign.

The West Papuan Student’s Alliance (AMP) and the Indonesian People’s Front for West Papua (FRI-West Papua) held rallies in 14 Indonesian cities on Tuesday, December 19 – Jakarta, Denpasar, Manado, Solo, Ambon, Ternate, Yogyakarta, Sula, Moratai, Malang, Bandung, Bogor, Salatiga and Semarang.

The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) also demonstrated in Port Numbay and Biak, West Papua.

The growing support from Indonesian people in solidarity with West Papua is reaching new heights and shows similarity to Indonesian solidarity with the people of Timor-Leste (East Timor) in the late 1990s, reports the Free West Papua Campaign.

While all the rallies held were peaceful, Indonesian police and police militia tried to break up the demonstrators’ freedom of expression.

In Malang, East Java, 66 people were arrested and some of those arrested were assaulted.

Demonstrators being arrested at a Free West Papua rally to reject “Operation Trikora” in Malang, Indonesia. Image: AMP

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Elia Agapa from the West Papuan Students Alliance told Suara Papua: “Our mass action saw 66 of us surrounded and blocked for demonstrating peacefully.

“There was a clash and four of those from our mass action were wounded. One of those four people is a West Papuan woman.”

The West Papua National Committee (KNPB) demonstrating in Biak, West Papua, to reject “Operation Trikora” and to show their support for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

Operation Trikora

Indonesian forces in action during Operation Trikora in 1961. Image: Free West Papua Campaign

In 1961, the Dutch government (West Papua’s former colonial ruler) was moving towards granting West Papua independence and on December 1 the West Papuan national flag Morning Star was raised with the promise of full independence in the coming years.

In response, Indonesia’s President Soekarno ordered “Operation Trikora”, a military plan to take West Papua by force, on December 19.

In the next few months, with backing from the Soviet Union, the Indonesian military launched ruthless military attacks on West Papua, from naval shelling to artillery bombing.

Hundreds of Indonesian soldiers were airdropped into the country but the West Papuan defence force managed to successfully repel Indonesian attacks.

It was not until 15 August 1962 that West Papua was left unable to defend itself.

Due to growing Cold War fears of war with a communist friendly Indonesia, the US intervened and effectively forced the Dutch to hand over West Papua to Indonesia without the consulting any West Papuans.

The West Papuan defence force was disbanded and by 1963, the Indonesian military had taken full control of West Papua; their illegal occupation cemented through a so-called “Act of Free Choice”, described by critics as a sham.

This year more than 1.8 million West Papuan people signed a petition rebuking that plebiscite and calling for a legitimate act of self-determination.

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Philippine media freedom riskier, traumatic under Duterte, says PCIJ director

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Philippine media freedom riskier, traumatic under Duterte, says PCIJ director

By Kendall Hutt in Auckland

Being a journalist in the Philippines has become a lot tougher, riskier and traumatic in the face of  President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs” which has seen more than 7000 people killed in the Philippines in the last 18 months, says a leading media researcher and advocate.

In a narrative “singularly dominated by the police”, says Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the face of journalism in the Philippines has begun to feel the impact.

Mangahas told the audience of the ‘Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific’ panel during the Pacific Media Centre’s 10th anniversary event one of the “freest” and “most rambunctious” media in Asia was facing serious challenges.

“The media in the Philippines right now is suffering from severe psychological trauma for seeing dead bodies, observing the terrible grief of family members of those who have been killed in the war on drugs by our president of only 16 months,” she said.

Mangahas said journalists in the Philippines had become “first responders” in a war which had seen institutions falter and the rule of law challenged.

Journalists “first responders” in Duterte’s drug war … PCIJ executive director Malou Mangahas. Image: Kendall Hutt/PMC

“The rule of law is weak in the Philippines. This happens, this aberration – Duterte, the war on drugs, the martial law on Marawi – because we have many broken institutions in the Philippines.”

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Although impunity was a problem in the drug war, Mangahas said accountability was a “twin problem” which the media had failed to uphold in a story “written and dramatic in numbers”.

‘Nobody owns up’
“People are getting killed but nobody owns up. Nobody gets jailed for what he has done. Cases are not even filed or pursued in court up to prosecution and conviction.

“I think we have gone wrong, we have not reported enough about our people,” she said.

PCIJ’s Malou Mangahas (second from right) with PMC advisory board member Khairiah Rahman in Auckland. Image: Venus Abcede/PMC

Mangahas said that reporting on justice and rule of law, a “very difficult thing for a journalist to do”, had become harder under Duterte’s drug war, as journalists had to retrace their steps.

PCIJ’s executive director said that the drug war had called attention to the role of the journalist in the Philippines, which a “virulent social media community” had seized upon.

The war on drugs had seen “trolls” call out reputable media organisations such as Rappler and the Philippine Daily Inquirer as “fake news”.

Mangahas said she did not like to see journalism diminished by the “loose term” and warned fake news was a form of misinformation, propaganda, spin and hate speech.

“People never think about what it includes, what it excludes.

‘Open to opaqueness’
“News is never, ever fake,” she said.

Mangahas said a general shift from “open to opaqueness” now characterised media freedom in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Historically in the last 20 years, nations of the Asia-Pacific region have moved from open to opaque.

“In many parts of the region what we’re observing is a general push-back.”

Johnny Blades, a senior journalist at Radio New Zealand International, spoke about the media and Melanesia, especially Indonesian-ruled West Papua.

RNZI’s Johnny Blades … Jokowi “not running the show” in West Papua. Image: Kendall Hutt/PMC

Among a handful of New Zealand journalists to travel to West Papua, Blades explained that despite President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s best intentions of loosening media restrictions, there was a lack of cohesion about Widodo’s “Papua policy” in various state agencies.

“Out there in Papua it’s not Jokowi running the show, it’s more likely to be the military and the police.

‘Unlikely to quell discontent’
“His focus on development is unlikely to quell the discontent with Indonesian rule among Papuans and that, to a large degree, relates to their historic core grievance about what they see as an illegitimate self-determination process,” Blades said.

Despite the “dominating” presence of security forces and an “uneasy reality” and “terrible tension”, Blades said he was grateful for the chance to have gone there.

“I never thought I’d get to West Papua.

“I was really blown away by the beauty of West Papua. It’s indigenous people are truly magnificent people,” he said.

Introducing the panel, the chair, PMC director Professor David Robie, said how both the Philippine crisis and the Indonesian human rights violations in West Papua had been virtually ignored by the mainstream media in New Zealand.

He said the PMC’s media products Pacific Media Watch freedom project and Asia Pacific Report had tried hard to balance these blind spots.

AUT honours graduate and Tagata Pasifika journalist as MC for the Pacific Media Centre event. Image: Screenshot/PMC livestreaming

A minute’s silence was held to remember the victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, while protesters held “Stop the killing” placards.

At the start of the panel, AUT graduate Sasya Wreksono introduced her special video to mark the anniversary, saying “I hope you get the feeling of the commitment, the drive and the passion that goes into the Pacific Media Centre”.

Evening MC Alistar Kata, an honours graduate and former Pacific Media Watch editor, added: “I would imagine, Sasya, it wasn’t easy to fit 10 years of stuff and content into two and half minutes!”.

A vigil for the victims of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre and as a protest against the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. Image: Venus Abcede/PMC

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Media freedom under the spotlight in PMC 10th anniversary event

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Media freedom under the spotlight in PMC 10th anniversary event

Pacific Media Centre … highlights threats to media freedom in anniversary. Image: PMC

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Threats to media freedom in the Asia-Pacific region are under the spotlight at the Pacific Media Centre’s 10th anniversary event tomorrow.

Since 2007, the PMC has examined whether the region is at a tipping point in media freedom issues and has explored the future of journalism in the Asia-Pacific region.

Carrying news of coups, human rights abuses, disasters and climate change, the centre has been an important independent voice, says Professor Berrin Yanıkkaya, head of AUT’s School of Communication Studies.

“The Pacific Media Centre is a channel for the voiceless to have a voice, a platform for the unseen to be seen, and an arena for the ‘others’ to deliberate their ideas.”

Dr Yanıkkaya will launch an investigative photojournalism book, Conflict, Custom & Conscience: Photojournalism and the Pacific Media Centre 2007-2017, edited by Jim Marbrook, Del Abcede, Natalie Robertson and David Robie.

Marbrook, an award-winning documentary maker, says the PMC’s work is “hitting home”.

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“We’ve seen the rise of a journalistic information service that serves the world, but significantly the Asia-Pacific region.”

Journalism under duress
With special guests Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and RNZ International senior journalist Johnny Blades, the PMC will also discuss the challenges to journalists reporting the Asia-Pacific region under the theme of “Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific”.

“The Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch project has developed a strategy to challenge issues of ethics, media freedom, industry ownership, cross-cultural diversity and media plurality – including in the Philippines,” says PMC founding director Professor David Robie.

“This has had quite an impact over the past decade.”

In the panel chaired by Dr Robie, Mangahas will speak about the culture of impunity in the Philippines and the widely condemned wave of extrajudicial killings by President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, which has claimed more than 7000 lives in the ongoing “war on drugs”.

Although the deadly crackdown reportedly eased last month when action was left to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Mangahas argues there has been no real change in strategy.

Blades, among a handful of New Zealand journalists to visit West Papua, will talk about his ground-breaking assignment in 2015 to the Melanesian nation controversially ruled by Indonesia since the 1960s, where allegations of human rights abuses are rife.

“There’s been a lot of democratic change in Indonesia since the turn of the century but West Papuans are still routinely restricted from exercising their basic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.

“Meanwhile, the catalogue of violent abuses and intimidation against Papuans grows,” says Blades.

The anniversary also includes the screening of a special video by Sasya Wreksono highlighting the PMC’s achievements over the past 10 years, along with a photographic exhibition.

MC is Tagata Pasifika’s Alistar Kata, a former Pacific Media Watch editor.

Seminar: “Journalism under duress in Asia-Pacific” 
Thursday, November 30, 2017 5.30pm-8pm
WG126, School of Communication Studies, AUT
55 Wellesley St, Auckland
Refreshments will be provided
Free admission

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Indonesia approves Freeport, Amman contract conversion and exports continue

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Indonesia approves Freeport, Amman contract conversion and exports continue

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Dig deeper: A heavy vehicle passes gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia’s mining areas in Grasberg in Papua. Image: Nethy Dharma Somba/Jakarta Post

By Viriya P. Singgih and Grace D. Amianti in Jakarta

The Indonesian government has approved the conversion of the contracts of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia and copper producer PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara, allowing them to continue exports of their partly processed minerals.

As required by a revised government regulation that has partly lifted the ban on the export of raw and partly processed minerals, the two companies have converted their contracts of work (CoW) into special mining licences (IUPK).

The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry stated that Amman Mineral and Freeport Indonesia had submitted proposals to convert their CoW into IUPK on January 25 and 26, respectively.

READ MORE: Indonesia stands firm as Freeport mine threatens to cut production

Amman Mineral has recently been taken over by local energy firm PT Medco Energi Internasional, owned by politically wired tycoon Arifin Panigoro, from the United States-based miner Newmont Mining Corp., while Freeport Indonesia is a subsidiary of another American giant mining company Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

“Today, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has approved the conversion of Freeport and Amman’s CoW into IUPK,” the ministry’s mineral and coal director general, Bambang Gatot Ariyono, said on Friday.

“Furthermore, we expect those companies to immediately submit proposals for export permit extensions so that we can process them right away.”

Major export destinations for Indonesia’s copper ore and concentrates. Source: Jakarta Post file

Bambang also said the proposals needed to be submitted along with written integrity pacts consisting of commitments and detailed plans to build a smelter, the progress of which will be monitored every six months.
Last month, the government relaxed the ban on mineral exports in returns for miners’ commitment to convert their CoW into IUPK, divest 51 percent of their shares and build a domestic smelter.

“The two companies must also comply with the requirement to sell their shares,” said Bambang, declining to elaborate on the subject of divestment.

The requirements are stipulated in two ministerial decrees as derivatives of the fourth revision of Government Regulation No. 23/2010 on the management of mineral and coal businesses, which allows miners to continue exporting copper concentrates, certain amounts of low-grade nickel and washed bauxite.

Politicians and analysts have argued that the issuance of the regulation and the decrees contravene the 2009 Mining Law, which originally imposed a total ban on mineral ore exports in 2014 and mandated all miners to build smelters domestically to strengthen the processing industry.

However, up to now, Freeport Indonesia and Amman Mineral have shown no significant progress in their smelter developments.

Now that the companies have obtained their IUPK both of their CoW have automatically been annulled and they are obliged to comply with fiscal policies stipulated in the prevailing law in return for their export permit extensions.

The Finance Ministry’s fiscal policy head, Suahasil Nazara, said the government had finalized the revision of a 2014 finance ministerial decree on raw mineral export duties, with the new rates to be based on the smelter-construction progress.

Export duty revision
Under the revision, if smelter progress is between 0 and 30 percent, the export duty will be 7.5 percent, while if the progress is between 30 and 50 percent the duty will be 5 percent and for 50 to 75 percent progress, the duty will be 2.5 percent.The export duty will be 0 percent only when progress passes 75 percent.

The export duties for both lowgrade nickel and washed bauxite will be 10 percent. However, Suahasil did not detail whether the rate was linked to the progress in smelter construction.

“A miner needs to submit a proposal to get the recommendation from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry for its export permit. Within such a recommendation, the ministry will state the progress of the smelter development, which will be our basis for setting the export duty for the miner,” Suahasil said, while adding that the duty would last in accordance to the export permit period.

Data from the Finance Ministry show that Freeport Indonesia and Amman Mineral paid Rp 1.23 trillion (US$92.1 million) and Rp 1.25 trillion, respectively, in export duty alone to the government throughout 2016.

Freeport Indonesia said recently it had begun preparing to reduce production, which could be followed by job cuts, in a move that indirectly pushed the government to grant the company the export permit.

Australia, Indonesia strengthen cyber-security ties but West Papua ignored

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Australia, Indonesia strengthen cyber-security ties but West Papua ignored

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Cyber-security main topic in the Australian, Indonesian consultation … but not “the elephant in the room” – West Papua. Image: AWPA

Australia and Indonesia have agreed to focus on cyber-security in their fight against terrorism and transnational crimes after a meeting in Jakarta but West Papua insecurity as an issue was apparently ignored.

The agreement was reached at the third ministerial council meeting on security and law on Thursday despite the ongoing suspension of military cooperation between the two countries.

Liza Yosephine of The Jakarta Post reports that the meeting highlighted an array of issues related to counterterrorism, such as deradicalisation, cyber intrusion, as well as tracing and stopping those funding terrorism online.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, who led the Indonesian delegation, noted that both countries had openly exchanged views on the development of regional security dynamics and the importance of maintaining stability in the region.

“The meeting today [Thursday] was held in an open, constructive and friendly atmosphere, so we expect that it will result in tighter and stronger cooperation in law and security,” Wiranto told a press conference at the conclusion of the meeting.

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis, who led his country’s delegation, said it was the first time cyber security had been included as a topic of the meeting.

Brandis said both countries were working closely together in response to increasing cyber security threats .

He added that cyber security had been the subject of long discussion during the meeting and was the focus of several agreements reached between the two countries.

Concrete measures
Although the topic has been discussed since the inaugural ministerial council meeting in Jakarta in December 2015, concrete measures have only been initiated this year, signifying the growing importance of the matter to both nations.

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s East Asia and Pacific director, Edi Yusup, said Indonesia was confirmed to attend a workshop on cyber security in Australia in the coming months.

“The workshop in Australia will be an opportunity to learn how the country develops cyber-security policies and strategies,” he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting, adding that the place and date of the meeting was yet to be determined.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) and its Indonesian counterpart centre (PPATK) announced on Wednesday that they would launch a new project later this year to enhance Indonesia’s ability to face the increasing number of online threats, especially those related to detecting and cutting flows of funds related to terrorism and crime.

The cooperation is part of the agencies’ efforts to cut the financial lifelines of terrorism in an agreement signed ahead of the meeting.

Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan emphasized the importance of continued cooperation between the two agencies, especially on intelligence sharing to monitor financial flows, prevent terrorism and halting the funding of organized crime.

“We will increasingly share the intelligence that we need to tackle illegal money flows,” Keenan said.

Brandis stressed that focusing on the flow of money was one of the most effective ways to combat growing terrorism.

‘Elephant in the room’
Before the meeting, Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association declared in a statement that once again “West Papua will be the elephant in the room”.

“As usual we can expect the issues of  counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and maritime security to be on the agenda but no doubt West Papua will be the elephant in the room again,” he said.

“The human rights situation in West Papua should be raised not only at this meeting but raised by Australian officials at all bilateral talks between Australian and Indonesian officials.”

Collins was commenting on a statement from the Australian side in the negotiations saying “Australia and Indonesia share a steadfast commitment to a stable and prosperous Indo‑Pacific region”.

Collins said: “West Papua is the one issue of great concern in our region and Australia should be doing all it can to encourage Jakarta to sit down and dialogue with West Papuan representatives to discuss all the issues of concern they have.

“It is now 54 years since Indonesia took over the administration of West Papua and the courageous West Papuan people  are still marching in the streets risking arrest and torture and calling for their right to self-determination.

“The West Papuan people and their representatives have achieved great victories in the past few years and as support continues to grow for West Papua not only in our region but world wide, Australia and Indonesian must realize that West Papua is truly back on the agenda and won’t be going away,” Collins said.