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SIPRA looks to prioritise strengthening good governance and arresting corruption

By Gary Hatigeva

Now going into its campaign platform, the Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA) is looking to set a high priority on fighting corruption head on, and strengthen good governance.

SIPRA President and former Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo revealed this when launching his party’s manifesto on Wednesday, with six pillars being the key baselines for their campaigning.

“In that regard, it is now my pleasure to present and highlight to you the main pillars of our 2019 General Election Platform. Our 2019 campaign is based only on 6 main pillars. Clearly setting out these pillars is important for all of us,” Lilo stressed.

The former Gizo-Kolombangara MP explained that these pillars help his team focus, and that sometimes when there are so many agenda to pursue, one loses his way.

“But when there is only a handful of goals to chase, resources and attention are directed and better results are achieved. SIPRA’s number 1 pillar for 2019 National General Elections is “arresting corruption and strengthening good governance,” he said.

Lilo said SIPRA sees good governance, not just by the Solomon Islands Government (SIG), but by the provincial governments, State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOS), village leadership structures and church leadership structures as fundamental to moving forward from 2019 to 2023.

“Corruption in my view is one of the greatest plagues of the 21st century. It is as terrible as aids which ravaged humanity some years back, or climate change which continues to threaten human existence today.

“Corruption is one of the greatest modern epidemics. It must be exposed, punished and constantly kept in check,” he added.

He said the statistics has borne out the fact that countries that have transparent and clear rules regulating government behaviour and also clear enforcement regimes tend to perform better than countries that have unclear rules of government and where corruption is swept under the carpet.

“In the world of instant social media we see that happening right in front of our eyes. Today we see the once rich country of Venezuela starving for basic food.

“We have also seen similarly well to do countries in Africa gone down that pathway. Conversely, we see countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong who constantly perform high on the global good governance indices maintain very high standards of living.

“That is the nature of the beast we call government. Our country is no exception. If we work hard over the next four years to curb corruption and bring it under check we will see the country rise among the nations of the world,” the SIPRA President further stressed.

He said good government is an ideal desired my many leaders – past and present, and the question should be asked is what can be done about it.

He added that in more modern times we saw passage of legislation such as the Financial Management Act, Political Parties Integrity Act, Anti-Corruption Act, Whistle Blowers Act and similar legislation.

He further added that under this priority, SIPRA’s objective over the next four years is to strengthen the implementation of that legislation.

The former who will be re-contesting the Gizo-Kolombangara seat highlighted in line with what have been shared, at the top level of government, they are looking to review the MPs Tax Free status, the Constituency Development Act and regulations.

“We will also put a spotlight on government contracting at the level of the Permanent Secretaries, the various tender boards, and the level of directors and undersecretaries. 
“We will also put the spotlight on the State Owned Enterprises to ensure that they do not simply waste valuable resources but produce the deliverables they state in their foundational documents. National resources must be applied to produce national benefits, not just benefit for a few well connected individuals or businesses,” Lilo told a packed SINU pavilion.

He then noted that in order to achieve the good governance proposal, his team is also looking to bring into being the Anti-corruption commission and the relevant bodies set up under the Anti-corruption Act.

“The relevant bodies will be independent. They will not be subject to political pressure of the government of the day.
We will ensure that the bodies set up under the various anti-corruption legislation will keep a check on corruption by private individuals, companies and entities.

“All public sector dealings will be under scrutiny by these agencies and the community at large.

“When government is transparent and accountable, we believe the community at large will reap many blessings. In the next four years, under a SIPRA government, its highest priority is to tackle corruption head on and to bring to account anyone that violates our standards against corruption.

“We will monitor our performance on the global good governance indices to ensure that we improve our performance over the next four years.

“Along with that we will also look at making the public service more efficient in its operations. We will review the recommendations that are already available and look at ways to implement these recommendations.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we must be able to put our house in order first before we try and address external matters. That will be the Number 1 priority of our government,” the former PM shared during his launch speech.

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via IFTTT March 01, 2019 at 11:36AM

Seorang perampok asal papua/ di kerjai polisi dengan Ular

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International Court of Justice and the Chagos Archipelago Advisory Opinion

Referendum di Mikronesia ditunda

Pohnpei, Jubi – Referendum untuk menentukan kemerdekaan bagi negara bagian Chuuk di Mikronesia, yang rencananya akan dilaksanakan bulan depan telah ditunda, menurut pejabat-pejabat senior di negara Pasifik itu, Jumat (22/2/2019).

Sebelumnya, pemungutan suara untuk memutuskan apakah Chuuk akan berpisah dari Federasi Mikronesia (Federated States of Micronesia; FSM), dijadwalkan diadakan bersamaan dengan pemilihan nasional pada 5 Maret 2019 mendatang.

Namun, penasihat hukum utama untuk badan legislatif negara bagian Chuuk, Eliesa Tuiloma berkata, referendum yang awalnya seharusnya dilakukan pada Maret 2015, kembali ditunda sampai waktu yang belum ditentukan.

“Ya, referendum itu akan ditunda,” katanya kepada AFP. “hal ini akan memungkinkan kita untuk menilai lebih mendalam implikasi-implikasi konstitusionalnya.”

Federasi Mikronesia (FSM) terdiri dari lebih dari 600 pulau di sebelah utara Pasifik, yang terbentang lebih dari ribuan kilometer dengan luas area daratan hanya 700 kilometer persegi (270 mil persegi).

Chuuk adalah negara bagian terbesar dari 4 negara bagian FSM dengan populasi mencapai 50.000 jiwa, mencakup hampir setengah dari populasi negara federasi itu.

Sebagian besar penduduk setempat di Chuuk sudah lama dongkol karena ibu kota nasional FSM, Palikir, berada di negara bagian Pohnpei. Selain itu mereka merasa tidak menerima sumber daya yang memadai dari pemerintah, yang menimbulkan desakan untuk merdeka. (PINA)

Editor: Kristianto Galuwo

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via IFTTT February 27, 2019 at 11:56PM

Komisi Referendum Bougainville terima bantuan asing

Buka, Jubi – Australia membenarkan bahwa mereka akan menyalurkan bantuan hingga K 2,4 juta, untuk mendukung pekerjaan Komisi Referendum Bougainville (Bougainville Referendum Commission; BRC).

Pengumuman itu dikeluarkan oleh Komisaris Tinggi Australia untuk PNG, Bruce Davis, di Buka, kemarin (24/2/2019), dalam pertemuan dengan Komisaris Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, George Manu, dan Komisaris Referendum Referendum Commissioner Patrick Nisira.

K 1.2 juta pertama telah diberikan melalui proyek pendukung persiapan referendum Bougainville yang dijalankan oleh Program Pembangunan PBB UNDP. Dana tersebut diberikan untuk menyokong komisi BRC, dalam melaksanakan referendum yang kredibel.

Bantuan ini adalah bagian dari dana K 120 juta per tahun yang disediakan oleh Australia untuk Daerah Otonom Bougainville (Autonomous Region of Bougainville; ABG) melalui kemitraan antar-PNG dan Australia.

“Sebagai saksi saat Perjanjian Perdamaian Bougainville 2001, Australia ingin menyaksikan suatu proses yang dijalankan dengan baik yang mendukung prospek untuk perdamaian, dan stabilitas yang berkelanjutan di masa transisi,” kata Davis.

Komitmen baru ini di luar dari dukungan Australia yang sudah ada untuk pelaksanaan referendum Bougainville, termasuk AU$ 6,6 juta (K 15,8 juta) untuk bantuan teknis kepada Komisi BRC, dan AU$ 3,1 juta (K 7,4 juta) yang dialokasikan untuk lembaga penelitian nasional PNG, National Research Institute, guna mendorong dialog yang lebih cerdas mengenai status masa depan Bougainville.

Komisaris Nisira berterima kasih kepada rakyat dan pemerintah Australia, atas dukungan pendanaan yang tepat waktu.

“Saya meminta kepada pemerintah nasional untuk menyediakan K 20 juta, agar BRC dapat melakukan pekerjaan independennya dalam persiapan pelaksanaan referendum,” katanya.

“Saya juga memohon lembaga-lembaga donor internasional untuk membantu menyediakan dana yang sangat dibutuhkan, demi melancarkan referendum di Bougainville.”

Nisira juga berterima kasih kepada Pemerintah Selandia Baru dan Jepang atas bantuan mereka. (Post-Courier)

Editor: Kristianto Galuwo

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via IFTTT February 27, 2019 at 11:54PM

West Papuans systematically marginalised, say Christian churches

Students call for Indonesian election boycott, alternative political force

By Chen Toisuta in Ambon, Maluku, Source;

Scores of students from the Student Struggle Centre for National Liberation (Pembebasan) and the Papuan Student Alliance (AMP) have called on the public to boycott or spoil votes in the legislative and presidential elections next month.

The students, who said they were part of the 2019 Election Boycott Committee (Komite Boikot Pemilu, KBP), held the protest action at the Dr Johanes Leimena statue traffic circle in the city of Ambon, Maluku, last week.

Golput [defacing ballot papers] is the most sensible choice. And this is our position in the 2019 pemilu”, said Abner Holago, one of the speakers at the action.

READ MORE: Papuans plan to boycott Indonesian elections, say independence activists

According to Holago, electoral participation levels have steadily declined between 1999 and 2014 by as much as 70.9 percent. Part of the reason for this decline is blamed on “administrative disorganisation”.

“This is a warning that progressively more people who are entitled to vote are not participating in the pemilu. From one year to the next more people don’t believe in [the elections], are disappointed with and sick of the country’s political system”, he said.

During the action the protesters made six demands including calling for people not to vote in the 2019 elections, to fight against militarism, to build an alternative political force, the withdrawal of the TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police) from the land of Papua, an end the theft of farmer’s land and for the ratification of the draft law on the elimination of sexual violence.

Golput (Golongan Putih, White Group): The term first emerged as a campaign by students in the 1971 elections and derives its name from marking the white section of the ballot paper rather than a party symbol or candidate’s picture thereby making the vote invalid.

In recent years the term has broadened to include not just intentionally casting an invalid vote but also vote abstention.

Under new electoral laws introduced in 2003, golput, defacing a ballot paper or simply not voting is no longer an electoral offence.

Although it is widely believed that publicly advocating golput is illegal, unless money or other enticements are offered simply campaigning for or encouraging others not to vote is not in fact a crime.

Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft News. The original title of the article was“Mahasiswa Papua Demo di Ambon, Ajak Masyarakat Golput”.

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via IFTTT February 26, 2019 at 11:34PM

Hela and SHP still need humanitarian help: UN

The United Nations says people in Hela and Southern Highlands still need humanitarian assistance following the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Highlands region a year ago.

UN resident coordinator Gianluca Rampolla told The National that the quake had only added more problems to the region, especially Hela and Southern Highlands.

Rampolla, who had led a team to Hela and Southern Highlands earlier this month, said both provinces had problems like lack of schools, tribal conflicts and health-related issues such as malnutrition before the quake struck in February last year.

He said the aftermath was not the first thing in people’s mind, rather tribal conflicts and law and order issues were their main concern in Hela and Southern Highlands.

But Rampolla said the people of the two provinces were happy to welcome his team during their visit, adding that they were thankful to see that people still cared for them.

The recently concluded UN mission to the region also found that while most immediate earthquake-related needs had partly been met, people were still facing development and human rights challenges from ongoing conflicts and due to their isolation and remoteness.

The UN in its assessment found almost 550,000 people were impacted and nearly 20,000 displaced, and destroyed roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and other vital public infrastructure. It increased an already precarious food insecurity situation by damaging garden plots and interrupting water supplies. Many of the 200 aftershocks measuring between magnitudes 4.5 and 5.5 caused widespread panic among the affected population and continue to do so.

Together, with humanitarian partners and the private sector, the UN mobilised over K67.32 million (US$20 million) to provide assistance to 200,000 people in need of immediate relief – of which 63,000 were children, half were girls and 62,000 were women. Because many affected communities were situated in extremely remote areas, helicopters and 4×4 vehicles were utilised to bring relief items. Although the response was interrupted briefly by fighting, working with partners on the ground, UN agencies managed to deploy staff and supplies over the course of several months to address the most urgent humanitarian needs in Hela and Southern Highlands.

In all, the UN established two field coordination hubs in Tari, Hela and Mendi, Southern Highlands and supported the establishment of two logistics hubs in Moro, Southern Highlands and Mount Hagen, Western Highlands.

UN stated that One year later, the after-effects of the earthquake are still visible. The disaster has compounded the development challenges faced by the affected provinces, and the impact of chronic, low level intensity armed inter-clan fighting that have been ongoing for years.

“The earthquake was the strongest-ever registered in Papua New Guinea and even stronger than the one that hit parts of Bali a few months later,” Rampolla said.

“Because many affected communities were in an extremely vulnerable state to begin with, the earthquake further eroded their limited livelihoods.”
The UN earthquake response included, health, protection, shelter, food security, education, water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The UN hopes that the work done during the emergency phase will help boost overall services in the region and lead to a more established UN presence.

Discussions are now under way for the UN to start the development of an area-based programme in the earthquake-affected provinces of Southern Highlands and Hela which remain severely under-serviced and conflict-prone.

Work has already commenced with critical development and peace-building work.

Vital to enabling the UN to rapidly initiate its life-saving response in a highly challenging operating environment was the availability of internal UN emergency funds, including the K30.97 million (US$9.2 million) from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Source: The National PNG

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via IFTTT February 26, 2019 at 10:52AM

Quake brings unity

PEOPLE in Southern Highlands have largely been working together in rebuilding their lives and homes and trying to restore some normalcy in their communities since last year’s earthquake, says provincial police commander Gideon Kauke.

He has seen more unity, less tribal fights, a change in attitude towards life and a trend to work together.

Today is the first anniversary of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that devastated the Highlands area, particularly Hela, Southern Highlands and parts of Western and Enga.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Parliament a few weeks after the quake that the death toll would probably be never known, although he had estimated that at least 160 people had perished

Kauke said people in Southern Highlands and Hela were simply shocked, traumatised and scared.

“Relief and aid came in from everywhere, but it wasn’t just enough for everyone. Medicine supplies were not enough, there were just too many people in need, especially those in the rural areas who didn’t have road connections. Food, water and medicines were flown to them but it wasn’t enough for everyone,”

he said.

Kauke said criminal activities stopped for a while as everyone was affected and people were scared another big earthquake was about to strike.
“It’s been one year since then and as the PPC of the province, I believe the earthquake has changed many mindsets. There’s been less tribal fights, unlike before as people are working together to rebuild their lives, homes and societies,” he said.

Kauke thanked the joint security operation for providing security at that time and the non-governmental organisations and churches for their never-ending support.

“Don’t trust what you hear, Southern Highlands is not like what you hear on the radio or read in the newspapers. Southern Highlands lost a lot during the earthquake and they have changed for the better. People are now rebuilding their lives but I know that the happening of that fateful morning when the earthquake struck will always linger in the people’s heart.”

Source: The National PNG

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via IFTTT February 26, 2019 at 10:48AM

UN court rejects UK’s claim of sovereignty over Chagos Islands

The Guardian – Judges advise Britain that separating archipelago from Mauritius in 1960s was wrong

The UK has been ordered to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible” after the United Nations’ highest court ruled that continued British occupation of the remote Indian Ocean archipelago is illegal.

The case was referred to the court, which hears legal submissions over international boundary disputes, after an overwhelming vote in 2017 in the UN assembly in the face of fierce opposition from a largely isolated UK.

Delivering judgment, the president of the ICJ, Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, said the detachment of the Chagos archipelago in 1965 from Mauritius had not been based on a “free and genuine expression of the people concerned”.

“This continued administration constitutes a wrongful act,” he added. “The UK has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos archipelago as rapidly as possible and that all member states must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.”

Judge Yusuf, who is a Somali, said the process of separating the Chagos Islands from Mauritius during decolonisation in the 1960s constituted an “unlawful detachment” and was a “wrongful act”.

The UK retained possession of the Chagos archipelago, which includes the strategic US airbase of Diego Garcia, after Mauritius gained its independence in 1968, effectively paying Mauritius more than £4m for the islands.

The government refers to it as British Indian Ocean Territory or BIOT. About 1,500 native islanders were deported so the largest island could be leased to the US for the airbase in 1971. They have never been allowed to return home.

In its submission to the ICJ last year, Mauritius argued it was coerced into giving up the Chagos Islands. That separation was in breach of UN resolution 1514, passed in 1960, which specifically banned the breakup of colonies before independence, lawyers for Mauritius said.

The UK government argued that the court it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. The ruling will be referred back to the UN general assembly, where it will be debated.

The assembly vote in 2017, following the Brexit referendum, revealed the UK’s international influence to be on the wane, with many EU countries failing to support a fellow member state and even traditional allies such as Canada abstaining.

The UN general assembly is now expected to deal with the question of the resettlement of the Chagos Islanders who have been expelled.

The judgment represents a significant defeat for the UK on virtually every point it contested in the hearing last September.

By a majority of 13 to one, the court found that the decolonisation of Mauritius had not been lawfully completed and that it must be completed “as rapidly as possible”. The only judge dissenting from the main opinion was an American.

The court’s recommendations are expressed in remarkably forthright terms and represent a fresh challenge to the UK’s standing in the UN.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “This is an advisory opinion, not a judgment. Of course, we will look at the detail of it carefully. The defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organised crime and piracy.”

Welcoming the ruling, the Mauritian government said it was a “historic moment in efforts to bring colonialism to an end, and to promote human rights, self-determination and the international rule of law”.

Mauritius’s prime minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, said: “This is a historic moment for Mauritius and all its people, including the Chagossians who were unconscionably removed from their homeland and prevented from returning for the last half century. Our territorial integrity will now be made complete, and when that occurs, the Chagossians and their descendants will finally be able to return home.”

Namira Negm, legal counsel of the African Union, which played an important role in the proceedings, said: “It is unthinkable that today, in the 21st century, there is a part of Africa that still remains subject to European colonial rule.

“The full decolonisation of Mauritius, and of Africa, is long overdue. The ICJ has made it clear that this must be accomplished today and not tomorrow. Only then the Africans can be free and the continent can aspire to live free of colonialism.”

Prof Philippe Sands QC, who represented Mauritius at The Hague, said: “The court has given a crystal-clear verdict, which upholds the rule of law. This is a historic and landmark judgment. It will be for Mauritius and the UK to sit down and implement this advisory opinion.

“It will be for Mauritius now to decide on the resettlement of the islanders. There’s no veto at the UN general assembly. It will decide how to go forward with the matter. There’s no question of the UK coming up with new arguments: their arguments were put forcibly and well.

“It’s difficult to imagine the UK as it moves forward into this Brexit world, ignoring what the international court of justice and the UN general assembly have said. The UK is a country which prides itself on respect for the rule of law. Our hope and expectation is that the UK will honour the ICJ’s findings and give effect to it as rapidly as possible.”

David Snoxell, coordinator of the all-party parliamentary group in the Chagos Islands, said: “This is a searing indictment of the UK detachment of the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 and its subsequent defence of that action. The UN general assembly must now decide what to do about this post-colonial legacy, including the human rights of the Chagos Islanders.

“Opinion in the UN and the Commonwealth is highly critical of our policy towards Chagos. The UK’s reputation and human rights record suffer. Litigation costs to the taxpayer multiply. HMG [Her Majesty’s government] should seize the opportunity to engage in serious discussions with Mauritius for an overall settlement. There is no defence, security, political or legal reason to delay it any longer.”

Damian Gonzalez-Salzberg of Sheffield University’s Centre for International and European Law, said: “With the sole dissent of Judge Donoghue [from the US], the court confirmed the stance supported by the majority of states that intervened in the proceedings: the right to self-determination was part of customary law already in 1960.”

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via IFTTT February 26, 2019 at 10:12AM

West Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to halt Indonesian torture

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The UN statement continued:

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

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

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

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via IFTTT February 25, 2019 at 01:39AM

West Papua: 1.8 million signatures can’t be wrong

Author: Keith LoveardBy Pacnews – via The Vanuatu Independent

WEST Papuan activist Benny Wenda described the petition he delivered to United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet as ‘like the biggest book in the world’. Containing 1.8 million signatures and weighing 40 kilograms, the petition called on the UN to send a fact-finding mission to the two easternmost provinces of Indonesia to look into persistent allegations of human rights violations.

Remarkably, Indonesia almost immediately acceded to a request by Bachelet to send a delegation. Indonesian ambassador to the UN, Hasan Kleib, was reported as saying on January 30 that the government was scheduling the visit.

But such promises have been made in the past. A year ago, Bachelet’s predecessor Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was also preparing to send a team to the area. He expressed concern over excessive use of force by security forces, harassment, arbitrary arrests and detentions. Again, the Indonesian government said it was making preparations for a visit, but an invitation was never issued and the visit never took place.

Indonesia’s consistent policy of restricting access to the region raises questions about what it fears will be revealed if its rule over what it describes as the provinces of Papua and West Papua — which take up the very western tip of the island of New Guinea — is opened to scrutiny. Foreign journalists are officially allowed to visit but rarely get the opportunity. Most international NGOs are banned from the area.

Human rights abuses undoubtedly happen. Indonesian security authorities have a habit of acting tough with any public display of dissent. In the past blood has been spilled. In the most recent denial of the right to free expression, several activists were reportedly assaulted by the security apparatus, while hundreds of people were detained during a rally commemorating World Human Rights Day in several locations in Papua on December 10.

Papuans studying in other parts of the country who try to express their political opinions on the streets often meet a harsh response from so-called ‘mass organizations’ — hoodlum groups that work hand in glove with local authorities. Displaying the banned Morning Star flag can earn a lengthy jail term.

Such crackdowns have the effect of convincing Papuans that the Indonesian regime oppresses them. Papua’s population is estimated at 3.32 million, with at least a million immigrants from elsewhere in the country. That means the entire adult population of indigenous Papuans signed the petition expressing their discontent.

On the Indonesian side, there’s a blank refusal to accept any challenge to sovereignty. Indonesia argues that because Papua was part of the former Dutch colonial territory of the East Indies, there is no parallel with East Timor, the former Portuguese colony which won independence after a referendum in 1999. While there is wide criticism of the way in which Papuans acceded to Indonesian rule, the UN decolonisation subcommittee has declined to take up the issue.

There’s minimal international support: Vanuatu, which allowed Benny Wenda to stow away in its delegation to the Human Rights Commission, is the only state that has actively supported Papuan independence. Neighbors Papua New Guinea and Australia want nothing to do with a separatist movement that threatens their relationships with Indonesia.

Armed opposition is active in the mountains, with the killing of 17 construction workers on the new Trans-Papua Highway on Dec. 1 the most extreme act of opposition to Indonesian rule for decades. Propaganda outfits are active on both sides, with the separatists alleging heinous crimes including the use of chemical weapons. With no way to confirm or deny such allegations, some of the claims stick.

Corruption, meanwhile, is a Papuan affair. In reaction to cries of pain from Jakarta that the money disbursed to the region under the Special Autonomy Law of 2001 was being wasted, Papua governor Lukas Enembe agreed to set up a committee of ‘competent’ Papuans. He noted that the current regulation on special autonomy funds stipulates that 80 per cent of funds allocated in the state budget are directly transferred to local governments, not all of whom are capable of managing the funds for the welfare of Papuans.

In Jakarta, the Home Affairs Ministry’s director general for regional autonomy, Soni Sumarsono, called for revisions to the law due to several weaknesses, including a lack of control by the central government over local administrations. In 2018, Papua and West Papua received 5.62 trillion rupiah (US$404 million) and 2.41 trillion rupiah respectively.

With all that money, it’s amazing how little seems to get done in Papua and West Papua. Papua province tops the national illiteracy list with a rate of 29 percent. The lack of roads and other infrastructure means that logistics costs are literally sky-high, with light aircraft needed to take basic supplies into remote villages.

Yet government attempts to push roads into the highlands, like the Trans-Papua Highway, come under attack from armed separatist bands who allege that the roads are designed only to open up areas for more Indonesian oppression.

Health care is particularly poor. The Papua Health Agency recently labeled Waris district in Keerom regency as particularly disease-ridden, with people suffering a wide range of infections. Besides tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, common diseases include malaria, yaws, filariasis and leprosy.

Early in 2018, some 800 children fell ill and as many as 100 others, mostly toddlers, are feared to have died in Asmat and Bintang Mountains regencies in what Jakarta called an ‘extraordinary’ outbreak of disease. The combination of common diseases with malnutrition pointed to long-term problems in the regions.

Incidences of malaria and dengue fever remain high and Papua has the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia after Jakarta. Papua lacks 3200 medical workers, while at least 206 health clinics in the province, more than half of the total, do not employ a doctor and 89 per cent do not have a dentist.

Some might ask why Jakarta keeps pouring money into the region for so little result. Papuans, meanwhile, resent a situation where they are ordered around and their land is invaded by Indonesians from elsewhere in the archipelago attracted by all the cash floating around the system. At the least, those 1.8 million Papuans have every right to complain that corruption, neglect and a failure of dialogue add up to abuse of their human rights.

Keith Loveard is an Indonesia-based journalist and analyst.

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via IFTTT February 23, 2019 at 10:41PM

UN demands probe into Indonesian treatment of Papuans

JAKARATA, 22 FEBRUARY 2019 (THE AUSTRALIAN) – United Nations human rights experts have demanded an independent probe into “alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans” by Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights has highlighted what it says is a culture of impunity among security forces in the provinces.

The demand comes a fortnight after a video went viral showing a handcuffed Papuan youth being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body, and as the UN group negotiates with the Indonesian government for access to the restive provinces.

There have also been reports this week that hundreds of students have fled fighting between the West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesian security forces in the highlands district of Nduga, following the December massacre of 16 government workers.

The video showed an indigenous youth, arrested on February 6 on suspicion of having stolen a mobile phone, yelling in fear while police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

In a statement released on Thursday night the UN said the case reflected a “widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua”.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police.”

The group of five UN experts includes the Special Rapporteurs on the rights of indigenous peoples; torture cruel and inhumane treatment; on the situation of human rights defenders; on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; as well as the chairman of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

The Papuan police have publicly apologised for the incident, and said an officer involved had been investigated and suspended for ethical violations.

But, the UN group has said prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

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

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

Papuan police commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal told The Australian there was “no such thing as a culture of impunity, racism or excessive use of force” in the local police force, and it was an “exaggeration” to say there was systemic use of torture and racism towards indigenous Papuans.

“We always use force proportionally, we treat every citizen of Papua equally,” General Kamal said.

“We provide services and protection and enforce the law equally, regardless of race and religion, including investigating one of our own officers. This was an isolated incident and the officer has been punished.”

Human rights groups have long-accused successive Indonesian governments of sanctioning the violent suppression of Papua and West Papua’s independence movements, fearing their success could encourage similar movements in other provinces.

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights has estimated more than 10,000 people were killed in Papua and West Papua during the 32-year Suharto era which ended in 1998.

An Amnesty International report last year found security forces were responsible for 95 extra-judicial killings in the two Papua provinces over the past eight years — almost one a month.

While The Netherlands granted Indonesia independence in 1949 it held onto Papua until 1962 when it ceded control of the province to the UN.

Indonesia was granted de facto control the following year and in 1969 conducted the so-called Act of Free Choice referendum in which 1025 men and women selected by the Indonesian military voted to determine the political status of the province.


from WordPress
via IFTTT February 23, 2019 at 12:31AM

Revision of French Polynesia autonomy statute approved

PAPE’ETE, 22 FEBRUARY 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC) – The French Senate has fully approved a revision of French Polynesia’s autonomy statute.

The reform is contained in two laws which have finally been adopted unanimously after being voted on last week.

The new statute gives official recognition to French Polynesia’s contribution to France developing its nuclear deterrent.

It states that consequences of the tests have to be taken into account in every sphere.

The revision of the statute now goes to a vote in the National Assembly.

French Polynesia’s president Edouard Fritch said the main point in revising the statute was to calm domestic and international opinion about the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests.

He said the nuclear issue was also being talked about a lot at the United Nations which six years ago returned French Polynesia onto the decolonisation list.

France carried out 193 nuclear weapon tests in the South Pacific between 1966 and 1996.


from WordPress
via IFTTT February 23, 2019 at 12:29AM

UN experts call for Indonesia to investigate violence against Papuans

Govt has no intention to take local land: Minister

By HELEN TARAWA, the National PNG
THE Government has no intention to take away customary land from its owners, Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Justin Tkatchenko says.
Speaking at the opening of the Southern Region Lands Summit workshop in Port Moresby yesterday, Tkatchenko, pictured, said: “We (the Government) are here to listen to you and hear how we can resolve some of the issues that we are now facing when it comes to customary land.

“This summit is just about customary land; it’s about getting it right.
“This is your forum today, this is about going through the subject matter and how government should improve on the laws and regulations of customary land in Papua New Guinea.”

Tkatchenko said the summit was an opportunity to strengthen Incorporated Lands Groups (ILGs) to make it more significant when it came to registering customary land.

He said the last Land summit was in 2005 and that was a broad spectrum of topics but this summit would focus on customary land issues in the four regions.

“We will have our national Lands Summit in May where all our ideas, suggestions and thoughts are put together as one to reform and to change customary land laws, regulations for the benefit of our landowners now and into the future,”

Tkatchenko said.

Kairuku-Hiri MP Peter Isoaimo said the workshop was an eye-opener for many of the landowners in the National Capital District and the district.
“People need to suggest to the Government how we can address their issues by way of accommodating their interest in the new legislations,” Isoaimo said. “We sympathise that a lot of them have land issues backdating to the last 20 to 30 years.

“But the procedures and processes need to be redefined in the Lands Department to allow people to have access to registering their portions of land.”

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 22, 2019 at 11:37PM

Sope Calls for Lini Compensation, No to Sale of Passport

Lini Day Celebration to Focus on Nationalism

The Lini Day celebration on Thursday, February 21 will focus on the importance of nationalism, says committee Chairman, Charles Lini.

The 2019 commemoration will mark 20 years when Vanuatu’s First Prime Minister, Father Walter Hadye Lini passed away in Port Vila and a committee was established headed by the son of late Fr Walter Lini, Charles to organize the 21st celebration.

“Since then, memorial services have always been organized by the Anglican Church in Port Vila or families,” he said.

“It is now 20 years, and we thought it should be an open celebration by everyone and the significance of representing nationalism.”

Mr Lini said that it will be a 2-day event, beginning with a parade on February 20th from Independence Park to the celebration venue at Saralana.

“The theme of the celebration is ‘Celebrating Lini Legacy with wisdom in Kastom, Church and Politics’ so the activities during the event revolves around the theme,” he said.

“We will have entertainment from church groups, custom performances, debates involving schools and official speeches from guest speakers.”

A mini photo exhibition in his memorial will be set up at the museum as it’s done annually to commemorate the 20th year of his passing away.

Mr Lini stressed that prior to Independence, the people of Vanuatu were then ‘stateless’ until the forefathers made the decision that this country has to make its own decisions.

“The idea of nationalism was born and today we have a nationality, so we are celebrating not just the person but the idea of nationalism and that we are proud of national identity,” he said.

“Our guest speaker of the day (21st) will be the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai on behalf of the Vanuatu government and speeches as decided by the committee will be based on the past, the present and future of this country in nationalism.”

Father Walter Lini was a priest, a politician and a high ranking custom chief of Pentecost and PENAMA Province.

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 22, 2019 at 11:21PM

Video of Papuan suspect being tortured with snake goes viral

A video showing two police officers torturing a Papuan man with snake during detention has gone viral after being published on the online platform YouTube. The video received more than 83.000 views after Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman shared the video on her Twitter account, claiming that Sam Lokon, a member of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) faced a similar torture technique after being arrested last month.

Koman further explained that the torture has features of racism given the pattern of the persecution in Papua.

The video shows a handcuffed Papuan man sitting on the floor in front of a wall while two police officers attempt to force a confession from the suspect.

The officers threaten the man to put the reptile in his mouth and trousers if he would not confess the alleged theft of a mobile phone. Multiple international media outlets published articles about the abuse.

The police torture allegedly occurred in the highland city of Wamena, Jayawijaya Regency, Papua Province.

The spokesman of the Papuan Regional Police, Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, first attempted to downplay the officers’ actions, arguing that the snake was not venomous and that the officers had not beaten the suspect.

As public attention on the case became bigger, officer Kamal announced that the internal police investigation body PROPAM had investigated the case and initiated a code of conduct trial.

Both investigated officers were allegedly relocated to a different police unit. However, the case was not filed to a public court, allowing the perpetrators to get away with minor disciplinary sanctions, if any.

The identity of the suspect and the perpetrators, as well as the detailed circumstances of the torture have not been published.


from WordPress
via IFTTT February 22, 2019 at 11:18PM

Indonesia: UN experts condemn racism and police violence against Papuans, and use of snake against arrested boy

GENEVA (21 February 2019) – Prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces, say a group of UN human rights experts*.

In the latest reported case, a video was circulated online of a handcuffed indigenous Papuan boy being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body. The boy, who was arrested on 6 February for allegedly having stolen a mobile phone, is heard screaming in fear while the laughing police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

“This case reflects a widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua,” the experts said.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police,” they added.

Representatives of the Indonesian police have publicly acknowledged the incident, and apologised for it. However, the UN experts say that prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

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

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

The incident in which the boy was mistreated comes amid an ongoing military operation in Papua, which became part of Indonesia in 1969 and which has seen the growth of an increasingly vocal pro-independence movement in the past decades.


(*) The UN experts: MsVictoria Tauli Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoplesMr. Seong -Phil Hong (Republic of Korea),Chair -Rapporteur, Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionMr.Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;Mr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland), Special Rapporteur on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishmentMs E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance

The Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Proceduresof the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page — Indonesia

For more information and media requests please contact: Ms Julia Raavad (+41 22 917 9288 /

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 /

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today.  #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 22, 2019 at 09:30AM

Google Alert - Melanesia

Melanesia Weekly update ⋅ February 20, 2019 WEB Uses of literacy in New Guinea and Melanesia in Brill Uses of literacy in New Guinea and Melanesia. in Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of ... Flag as irrelevant See more results | Edit this alert You have received this email because you have subscribed to Google Alerts. Unsubscribe | View all your alerts Receive this alert as RSS feed Send Feedback

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Strong winds damage food crops on islands

A VISIT by the Morobe Disaster Office workers and officials over the weekend confirmed that some islands in Siassi are in need of relief assistance.

The islands of Malai, Aramot and Tuam after strong monsoon winds are facing shortages of water, food and other basic items.

Tami Island in Finschhafen district also faces similar problems.

The islands of Malai and Tuam, being the outer most lying islands, experienced strong winds and are now experiencing soil erosion as the sea level rises.

Tuam Island ward 13 councillor Robert Michael said that as the population increased, people could not go anywhere.

“During the winds that started over a month ago, all our gardens were destroyed. Breadfruit trees have been blown down, banana patches destroyed and with the prolonged dry season, our water source is running out,”

Michael said.

He said Tuam Island also experienced reef fish dying during dry periods.
“People started getting those fish to eat but we advised them not to as we do not know what caused these fish to die,” he said.

Tuam Island has more than 400 people with 150 households.
The Tuam Primary School is also affected.

The ward 12 councillor on Malai Island, Peter Kamaru, said his people were facing possible food and water shortages.

“As the population increased, land availability is scarce. With the dry season experienced now, people have no choice,” Kamaru said.

He said help from government authorities came only once in many years so they did not really see any assistance.

Kamaru said people needed clean water.

He said the strong winds sprayed saltwater over their garden crops such as tapioca, taro and vegetables.

Source: The National PNG

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 20, 2019 at 11:11PM

Papuans plan to boycott Indonesian elections, say independence activists

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maintaining colonialism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 20, 2019 at 11:02PM

Why nearly 2 million people are demanding an independence vote for West Papua province

Melanesian Cup Consultation successfully conducted with Vanuatu Football Federation

The Vanuatu Daily Post – Port Vila:

The MSG Secretariat met with the Vanuatu Football Federation General Secretary Mr. Albert Manaroto as part of the wider consultations with the MSG members on Sports Corporation as mandated by the leaders.

The consultation was convened following a decision made during the 6th MSG Sports Council (MSC) meeting held in Kimbe, New West Britain, Papua New Guinea in September 12 – 14 last year 2018 directing the MSG Secretariat to support the revival of the Melanesian Soccer Cup.

During the consultation on Friday 8th February 2019 the Vanuatu Football Federation confirmed their strong support on the concept paper presented by the PNG sports team in the 6th MSC meeting in Kimbe. General Secretary VFF, Mr. Albert mentioned that, MSG has a large youth population and therefore it is in the best interest of MSG to recognize the need to establish sustainable sporting initiatives such as Football, Netball and other discipline to enhance the corporation and benefits to our people and communities.

Hosting such a tournament will contribute to the national economy of our member countries through strategic partnerships with national governments, private sectors and the wider communities.

The Director General of the MSG Secretariat, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, while congratulating the Vanuatu Football Federation for their support reiterated the importance of sports as a development tool for our people and countries of Melanesia.

Ambassador Yauvoli, emphasized that the core purpose of this tournament is to strengthen our Melanesian cooperation and to enable both our men and women to come together in sport, build people to people relationships, strengthening Melanesian cultural values and provide integral human development for our people.

The MSG Secretariat will continue consultations with the rest of the National Football Federations in all MSG member countries to solidify the support for the proposed revival of the Melanesian Soccer Cup.

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 19, 2019 at 11:35PM

Movement to push U.S. military out of Pacific Islands comes to Seattle

Three activists from the Indigenous communities of Okinawa, Guam, and Hawai’i will be speaking in Seattle later this month about efforts to remove U.S. military bases from the native lands in the Pacific.

Tina Grandinetti, Kisha Borja-Quichocho Calvo and Ruth Aloua are visiting several Pacific Northwest cities for the “Oceania Rising: Peace Pivot to the Pacific” speaking tour. The Seattle event is at El Centro De La Raza in Beacon Hill from 7 to 9 p.m., Feb. 21. The tour includes events in Port Townsend, Olympia and Portland.

The three speakers are members of Women’s Voices Women Speak, a Hawai’i-based organization that focuses on demilitarization, peace and nonviolence.

The tour is supported by Hawai’i Peace and Justice, a grassroots group based on the preservation of the environment, culture and human rights, as well as by the local chapter of Veterans For Peace.

The U.S. military bases take up land, create radioactive contamination, desecrate sacred Indigenous sites and pose security threats to the islands themselves, said Zoltan Grossman, a faculty member in geography and Native studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Tina Grandinetti is a PhD candidate at RMIT University in Australia and a 2017 member of the WVWS delegation to the International Women’s Network Against Militarism gathering. Originally from Hawaii, she is biracial Uchinanchu and she is focused on the solidarity against imperialism.

Kisha Borja-Quichocho Calvo is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Hawaii – Manoa. She is Chamoru and has worked to curb the military buildup in Guam.

Ruth Aloua, a Kanaka Maoli from the Kona District in Hawai’i, is an advocate for nonviolence between people and the environment.

Grossman said activists in the movement also hope to raise awareness of the effects of the military bases in Washington state, including Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The bases are a part of the larger pivot in U.S. military strategy from Europe to Asia, Grossman said.

“Few residents are aware of these concerns,” Grossman wrote in an email. “Nor are we aware how the military presence prevents colonized Indigenous peoples from exercising self-determination.”

Much of the U.S. government’s land in Guam are over or adjacent to the northern aquifer, Guam’s major source for portable water. Despite federal protection, many wells were shut down due to chemical contamination, according to the think tank Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. U.S. nuclear and weapons material have been historically stored in Guam since the World War II. The material poses dangers to both human health and the environment, Nautilus reported.

The military has also not made a significant effort to locate unexploded munitions that litter the island, which poses significant safety threats to residents of the island, according to Nautilus. These munitions are most commonly discovered during civilian construction work. Additionally, the U.S. military, rather than transfer inactive property back to former landowners, frequently transfers these bases to other federal agencies.

The event is to raise public awareness rather than raise funds, although they will be accepting funds to offset speakers’ travel expenses.

“Oceania Rising” will be in Olympia on Feb. 19 and in Portland on Feb. 20.

Update: This story has been updated to remove the reference to a Whidbey Island stop. While Whidbey Island is referenced on the event’s Facebook page, but the main page does not list it.


from WordPress
via IFTTT February 11, 2019 at 11:54PM

Experts recommend military withdrawal from West Papua region

ABC News – By Catherine Graue on Pacific Beat

Calls for the West Papua region to be granted independence continued this week as activists took to the streets in various Australian cities, calling for the Federal government to support an independence referendum.

Melanesians who call the region home have been pushing for independence for decades.

A referendum was held in July 1969, overseen by the United Nations.

It was called the Act of Free Choice but it has been heavily criticised.

Hugh Lunn, an Australian journalist who was on the ground reporting for the Reuters news agency during the 1969 referendum, is among those critics.

“I thought it would be a vote. What a fool I was. Under the UN, it was note a vote. They specially selected 1025 people, in the eight provincial capitals and told them they had to make the decision,” Mr Lunn told Pacific Beat.

“They all voted for staying part of Indonesia, but as I was walking through the fair, people stuck letters under my arm, one of them was addressed to the ‘nicest man in Merauke’, and they said ‘this is all a farce, we’re scared to say anything, no one knows what to do'”.

The West Papua region is actually two provinces, Papua and West Papua, that make up the western half on New Guinea island, and has previously also been known as Irian Jaya.

It officially became part of Indonesia after that vote, and since then, there have been continuous reports of violent crackdowns and human rights abuses committed by Indonesian authorities, particularly its military, against pro-independence supporters.

The Indonesian government says it has been paying special attention to the human rights issues.

Since coming to power in 2014, President Joko Widodo has made economic and infrastructure development a priority, which is something experts like Cahyo Pamungkas say is important to help stem the conflict.

He is a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, and has conducted extensive field research on West Papua.

But he says that economic and infrastructure development won’t resolve the violence, because there are still limited benefits to the Melanesian population.

Mr Pamungkas and his colleagues recently visited the Indonesian Presidential office to deliver their recommendations on how best to approach the issue of West Papua, ahead of the national election in April.

“The government should cancel the military operations, or withdraw the troops and police from the central mountains, because it increases the potency for human right abuse. There is no other option,”

he said.Duration: 5min 2secBroadcast: Fri 15 Feb 2019, 7:00am

from WordPress
via IFTTT February 16, 2019 at 12:34PM

Google Alert - Melanesia

Melanesia Weekly update ⋅ February 13, 2019 NEWS Dark skin and blond hair: so are unusual inhabitants of Melanesia. Photo (press release) Melanesia is an island group in the Pacific, which includes New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu and other States. On the archipelago of more than thousand ... Flag as irrelevant See more results | Edit this alert You have received this email because you have subscribed to Google Alerts. Unsubscribe | View all your alerts Receive this alert as RSS feed Send Feedback

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ULMWP Chairman condemns Indonesian crack-down on freedom of expression

On January 25, I, as chairman of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), led by the courage and spirit of the people of West Papua, delivered a historic petition to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva.

This petition carried the voice of 1.8 million West Papuans, who faced arrest, imprisonment and torture to sign it. Never in history has a petition signed by 70% of a country’s population made it to such a high level of the UN. West Papua spoke to the world united behind their right to self-determination and call for a referendum on independence from Indonesia.

Since then, the Indonesian occupation has desperately tried to crush the spirit of the West Papuan people through arrests, intimidation and repression. This is how the colonisers react when we peacefully exercise our rights, when we sign petitions or demonstrate.

Just this month, Papuans in Timika and Jayapura gathered to thank the Vanuatu government for their support during the meeting with the UN High Commissioner.

They peacefully assembled, put up a banner and released a political statement. In Jayapura, they held a peaceful prayer meeting.

The assembled Papuans were met with harassment and scare tactics. The Indonesian security services tried to stop the gathering, and have been chasing down anyone involved with the committee which organised the petition.

On January 15, the office of the ULMWP’s Political Bureau was raided by Indonesian police, military and intelligence. Ten people were arrested. Four people are still being detained.

Recently the offices of the KNPB were raided and six activists arrested. Three of them, all associated with the petition, continue to be imprisoned.

On Tuesday February 5, the West Papua Action Committee held a gathering. The Indonesian police forcibly broke up the meeting, chasing those who fled.

The actions of the West Papuan people are peaceful and democratic. We do not hide our demands, or our desires for freedom. Indonesia presents itself as a democracy to the world. Would a genuine democracy jail people for signing a petition? Would a true democracy arrest people for peacefully gathering? Would a legitimate democracy deploy chemical weapons against civilians?

This is the reality of the illegal Indonesian occupation of West Papua. I know that Indonesia’s actions aim to terrorise the West Papuan population, to systematically destroy our spirit and unity.

The Indonesian police and military want to stop people from even holding a demonstration, from even signing a petition. Indonesia knows that these are our tools for telling the world about what happened in 1969. Indonesia may try to scare us West Papuans, but Indonesia is the one who is afraid: afraid that we will expose their sham ‘Act of Free Choice’, and expose the illegitimacy of their entire claim to West Papua.

Papuans are still hiding in the bush of Nduga, having fled the bombs and chemicals of the Indonesian military. Now 350 children are hiding in Jayawijaya as a result of Indonesian attacks. Papuan activists are still in prison. Our people are still not free.

On behalf of my people, and on behalf of those Papuans who have were chased and harassed by the Indonesian police for putting up a banner, I want to thank the people and Government of Vanuatu for their support and bravery in facilitating the meeting with the High Commissioner.

The demands in the petition are the West Papuan people’s demands, they’re not Benny Wenda’s personal demands or demands made up by the ULMWP. They are demands made by the West Papuan people to the UN to correct what happened in 1969, to correct this stain on the UN’s history by holding a referendum on independence.

The Indonesian government must immediately grant full and unrestricted access to West Papua for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Indonesia must allow the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons into the Nduga Regency to investigate the chemical weapons use. Indonesia must lift its repressive restrictions on international journalists and allow them to show the world what happens in West Papua.

These are simple demands, which the Indonesian State could easily fulfil. Why, then, does it not? What is Indonesia afraid of?

Indonesia fears that giving the world access to West Papua will allow our demands for merdeka, for self-determination and independence, to ring forth. Indonesia knows that we will not stop struggling for a referendum, a vote, on independence. It is time Indonesia hears our call, and allows us to decide our own destiny.

Benny Wenda


United Liberation Movement for West Papua


from WordPress
via IFTTT February 13, 2019 at 06:59PM

Forum SG says Vanuatu position on self-determination issue admirable

Daily PostVanuatu has always been very principled in its approach to West Papua, in the issue of self-determination of any country, particularly in our own region, Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Dame Meg Taylor said.

She says the approach by Vanuatu is a very admirable position to take.

Dame Taylor says some of the countries don’t come out as strongly as Vanuatu.

“There are countries that have different views on this but they have come together with a collective decision.

“In all their communiques they (Forum Leaders) have expressed their concerns about human rights issues until last year.

“Last year they instructed the secretariat to keep a more proactive engagement with Indonesia,” she stated in an interview with Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM.

Dame Taylor said last year Prime Minister O’neil addressed the University of the South Pacific and raised human rights issue and has been supportive of UN Human Rights Commission Mission to go into West Papua.

“I myself as SG met with Human Rights Commissioner last year when they came through the Pacific after they visited Jakarta, we raised the issue as well that, that is what we want to see.

“From the Secretariat itself what we have done over the last two years is we’ve gone into West Papua and Papua provinces to observe the elections there to see indigenous West Papuan people participate in those processes.

“Our reports are written and are sent out to member states.

“The situation of West Papua in the last couple of weeks has been desperate.

“People have died. People from Java and other provinces but most of all people of Melanesian decent, there have been tragedies there.

“I understand Indonesian Government has asked for the UN Mission to go in.

“Pacific countries should be on that (UN) mission,” Dame Taylor said.

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via IFTTT February 13, 2019 at 06:48PM

New Commissioner Vows to Tackle Corruption

The new Labour Commissioner, Ms Murielle Meltenoven, has reassured the people of Vanuatu and Government that no corruption will be tolerated in her office.

She told Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM that any Labour officers conducting themselves in an improper manner will face disciplinary measures under the Public Service Act. 

Meltenoven says she will not hesitate to discipline any officers that have been conducting themselves in such improper manner.

“I want to regain the confidence of the people that we are here to assist people with employment issues and we are here to defend the welfare of the people to make sure they get access to the entitlements that the Labour laws provide for.

“I will try my best to make sure all the staff comply with the generally accepted behavior, the provisions of the Public Service Act and the ILO (International Labour Organization) standards,” she said.

Ms Meltenoven is the first female to take up the post of Labour Commissioner. 

She is one of the seven female directors appointed recently by the Public Service Commission.

The Commissioner said a retreat will be held next week to discuss and plan to conduct compliance checks in relation to the labour laws that her office implements.

In terms of seasonal work under the Recognized Seasonal Employer scheme in New Zealand, Seasonal Workers Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme in Australia, the Commissioner says she wants to see a proper mechanism in place to address the behavior and conduct of workers.

“For the RSE and SWP I must admit that at the moment the department does not possess all the complaints against the workers,” she said.

“How we can generate complaints, how we can address the discipline procedure for a worker that has been misbehaving in the scheme.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been engaging a consultant to draft a labour mobility policy framework.

“The policy will shape the future of Vanuatu in the labour mobility.

“The policy will provide recommendations on how we want to see Vanuatu in the next 10 to 15 years in labour mobility.”

This includes assistance to workers on how to invest their income when they return to Vanuatu.

She said a code of conduct for seasonal workers will be worked on for them to sign before they go overseas.

The Commissioner said the seasonal work programmes have brought good returns for Vanuatu as latest figures show Vanuatu gaining around Vt2 billion according to figures for 2016 to 2018.

In terms of Pacific Labour Scheme, Ms Meltenoven revealed that employers from Hayman Island Resort in Australia are currently in Vanuatu to interview and recruit ni-Vanuatu workers.

So far 11 workers have been short-listed and expected to travel to Australia soon.

Source: Daily Post

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via IFTTT February 09, 2019 at 06:49PM

French Ambassador visits NGOs

The Ambassador of France to Vanuatu, Mr. Robby Judes paid a courtesy visit to the Vatu Mauri Consortium, Vanuatu Human Rights Coalition and Vanuatu Young Women For Change (VYWC) on Monday, February 4, 2019.

The Executive Board and members of the three Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) gladly received the French Ambassador. The chiefs, women leaders and Youth leaders showed their appreciation by warmly welcoming Ambassador Judes with fresh salusalus, a mat and calicos.

In his remarks, Ambassador Judes said he is interested in the work of Women and Human Rights.

In his remarks, Ambassador Judes said he is interested in the work of Women and Human Rights.

During the discussions, Ms. Anne Pakoa Acting CEO of the Vatu Mauri Consortium and CEO of the Vanuatu Human Rights Coalition and Technical Advisor for the VYWC briefed Ambassador Judes of the different programs and activities each of these organisations work on which includes the upcoming manioc project for the Tokoshefate Farmers Association, the Rights of victims of displaced people and communities and the VYWC ‘Storian Insaed Long Nakamal Project’ which is a project led by VYWC and over 18 chiefs to ensure women representation in the National Parliament in 2020.

During the discussions, Mr Joe Kalo, CEO of the Vanuatu National Youths Council (VNYC) raised the importance of VNYC taking lead on the celebration of La Francophone activities while Mrs Alice Kaloran, President of Tongoa Shepherds Women Association spoke about the work they do on empowering women economically.

Ambassador Judes said he is looking forward to a concept note to be provided to him by Ms Pakoa which should incorporate current programmes and activities of these NGOs.

Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

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via IFTTT February 09, 2019 at 11:17PM

Pacific Islands Forum SG to speak at symposium today in Port Vila

Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, is visiting Vanuatu this week.

Dame Taylor says her visit to Vanuatu is to consult with various arms of the Vanuatu Government as well as speak at a symposium at the University of the South Pacific about China in the Pacific.

“I’ve had meetings with both the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

“I’ve also sat down with key government officials to look at key issues that are of concern to them.

“This for us is a way of getting and understanding of what is the thinking of people in the region.

“We’ve also had a team here with us to looking at the governance arrangements and the functional aspects of the Pacific Resilience Facility.

“This is a Fund that the Finance Ministers want set up and it has been endorsed by the Leaders.

“That is to raise a substantial amount of money that we would, as countries, as private sector and also communities to be able to utilize to ensure that we are investing in infrastructure that will be able to withstand climatic impacts.

“Also to refit old infrastructure,” she told Kizzy Kalsakau from 96 Buzz FM.

Dame Taylor says Vanuatu is important in such conversation because after Cyclone Pam 64% of the GDP of this country was lost.

“That cannot happen again.

“We have to make sure that we find instruments so that Vanuatu protects itself and takes action for itself,” the Forum Secretariat SG said.

The Forum SG says she is also here because she has been invited to speak at a symposium on China in the Pacific at the University of the South Pacific’s Emalus Campus today.

“For us it is very important because of a number of our member states that recognize the People’s Republic of China.

“The challenges, opportunities- so I’ll be addressing that tomorrow (today) morning at the University of the South Pacific.”

Source: DailyPost

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via IFTTT February 09, 2019 at 11:10PM

Google Alert - Melanesia

Melanesia Weekly update ⋅ February 6, 2019 NEWS Bad places turned good: security in Melanesia's settlement communities Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s it was rare to read anything about PNG without being confronted by warnings about the dire law and order ... Flag as irrelevant Crocs, cassowaries and kangaroos at the best zoos in the Far North The Cairns Post Cassius, the largest crocodile in captivity in the world, is being fed a turkey on his 118th birthday at Marineland Melanesia, Green Island. Flag as irrelevant Crocs, cassowaries and kangaroos at the best zoos in the Far North The Advertiser MARINELAND MELANESIA. Where: Green Island. What: a family owned and operated business on Green Island, making it the only coral cay with ... Flag as irrelevant See more results | Edit this alert You have received this email because you have subscribed to Google Alerts. Unsubscribe | View all your alerts Receive this alert as RSS feed Send Feedback

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