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Syria : Well-known Syrian citizen-journalist probably died in detention in 2013

Reporters Sans Frontières - Fri, 19/04/2019 - 10:37pm
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for an investigation into the status of Ali Mahmoud Othman, a well-known Syrian citizen-journalist who disappeared after arrest in 2012. His family was recently told he died in detention on 30 December 2013 and is seeking official confirmation of his death and the return of his body.

Categories: Middle channel

Police investigating killing of a journalist in Northern Ireland

Reporters Sans Frontières - Fri, 19/04/2019 - 8:51pm
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned by reports that journalist Lyra McKee was killed in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after shots were fired during an incident of unrest on 18 April. RSF is waiting for the police investigation to determine whether McKee was present as a journalist reporting on the unrest, and whether she was deliberately targeted.

UPDATE: According to information received by RSF, Lyra McKee was killed in the course of doing her job as a journalist.

Categories: Middle channel

West Papuan boycott of Indonesian election successful, says campaign

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 19/04/2019 - 12:37pm

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) has claimed a successful boycott of the Indonesian election on Wednesday, estimating that about 60 percent of voters have declined to cast their ballot.

While voting did not take place in many polling stations as the ballots had not been delivered, it is the boycott by voters that has reduced participation to record lows, says the ULMWP.

Benny Wenda, the London-based chair of the ULMWP, said:

“This is the first time in our history that 60 percent have boycotted the Indonesian elections in West Papua. It’s a great achievement, and the second time that the West Papuan people have not joined the Indonesian presidential elections.”

READ MORE: Indonesia’s presidential rivals both declare election win

Wenda said the boycott was growing.

“More people boycotted this year’s elections than the previous 2014 Indonesian elections,” he said.

“There is growing confidence in West Papua that we will be an independent state.

“People around the world should hear the voice of the West Papuans in our call for self-determination.

“The West Papuan people have already voted – 1.8 million signed a petition to the United Nations for an international supervised vote for self-determination”

The call to boycott the Indonesian elections was made on March 26, 2019.

In a statement, the ULMWP also called for people to rally on April 5 for a referendum.

The date of the Rally for Referendum call – April 5 – marked the anniversary of the establishment of the Nieuw Guinea Raad (the West Papua National Parliament).

On April 5, 1961, the Netherlands and the international community formally recognised West Papua’s right to self-determination and eventual statehood.

A West Papuan activist holds a banner demanding independence. Image: CNN Indonesia
Categories: PMC network

Call For End to Offshore Detention after Typhoid Outbreak

Pacific Scoop - Fri, 19/04/2019 - 6:26am

Press Release – Adelaide Vigil for Manus and Nauru

The outbreak of Typhoid among refugees on Manus underscores the case for all to be removed from Manus and Nauru say advocates.

The outbreak of Typhoid among refugees on Manus underscores the case for all to be removed from Manus and Nauru say advocates.

Refugees have provided evidence of the outbreak to Facebook.
Evidence of Typhoid on Manus
Anthea Falkenberg of Adelaide Vigil for Manus and Nauru (as well as various other groups) who has visited Manus eight times, today said:

“Typhoid can be avoided by hygiene and vaccination.

“The $33 vaccine Boostrix is highly effective and last ten years.

“Once again, it is clear that neither the Department of Home Affairs nor their contractors have succeeded in delivering the most basic of services.

An outbreak such as this will only occur in conditions of prolonged squalor and neglect.
Immunity among refugees is compromised by poor nutrition across a prolonged period. At times food made available to refugees has in the past even contained teeth. Very rarely does it contain fruit and vegetables.

There is also evidence to show that people forced to live offshore have also been endangered by serious violence, severe malaria, dengue fever, Hepatitis A, misprescribed combinations of anti-depressant medication, shocking housing, poor safety and inadequate food rations.

At Melbourne’s Palm Sunday rally last weekend writer Richard Flanagan called for a Royal Commission into the shocking history of Offshore Detention.

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Categories: PMC network

RSF Index 2019: UK rises in ranking, but press freedom climate remains worrying

Reporters Sans Frontières - Thu, 18/04/2019 - 5:28pm
The UK has risen seven places in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2019 World Press Freedom Index, published today. Now ranked 33rd out of 180 countries, the UK has improved from its 2018 ranking of 40th, placing it between France and Slovenia in the 2019 Index. However, the UK remained one of the worst-performing countries in Western Europe, and a number of worrying trends continued, particularly in relation to national security, surveillance, and data protection.

RSF welcomed some positive steps in the UK in 2018, including the statement in March by then-Sec

Categories: Middle channel

Jokowi wins second term in Indonesia, CSIS-Cyrus quick count shows

Asia Pacific Report - Thu, 18/04/2019 - 12:47pm

By Karina M. Tehusijarana in Jakarta

A quick count conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Cyrus Network indicates that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been reelected to the presidency in Indonesia, with the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin ticket winning 55.8 percent of the vote against Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno’s 44.2 percent.

“Today we can conclude that Pak Jokowi and Pak Ma’ruf Amin is ahead of Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno based on our quick count results,” CSIS executive director Philips Vermonte said.

“The position will not change.”

READ MORE: A thousand Indonesias at stake in one election

In contrast, challenging retired general Prabowo Subianto claimed he had “already won“.

Prabowo claimed victory hours before quick-count surveys officially ended, in a repeat of a similar declaration he made in the 2014 presidential race – which he lost.

He claimed a “real count” from more than 320 polling stations had placed him in the lead with 62 percent of votes.

He added that he had consulted statistics experts who said the figure would “not differ much” from the final count.

‘We have already won’
“We will avoid taking any unconstitutional actions because we have already won,” Prabowo told the media at his residence in South Jakarta.

Melanesian leaders of the two easternmost provinces of Papua and West Papua had called for a boycott of the election and demanded independence.

For the quick count, the pollsters surveyed 2002 polling stations across the country’s 34 provinces.

As at 5:03 pm last evening, local time, data from 86.7 percent of the polling stations surveyed had been received. The margin of error from the quick count is 1 percent.

A quick count conducted by Jakarta-based pollster Charta Politika also shows similar results with Jokowi-Ma’ruf winning 54.3 percent against Prabowo-Sandiaga’s 45.7 percent, with 83.8 percent of 2000 polling stations surveyed.

The results were in line with the most recent polls, which showed Jokowi holding a comfortable double-digit lead over the Gerindra Party chairman.

Karina M. Tehusijarana is a Jakarta Post journalist.

Categories: PMC network

AUT communication studies awards – the full 2018 list

Asia Pacific Report - Thu, 18/04/2019 - 11:28am

The 2018 School of Communication Studies Awards presented at last night’s 2019 annual ceremony.

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Student in the Certificate in Communication Studies: Madie Freeland

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Year One Bachelor of Communication Studies: Samuel Wat

Professor Wayne Hope presenting the top Year 2 Bachelor of Communication Studies award to Irra Lee. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Year Two Bachelor of Communication Studies: Irra Lee

School of Communication Studies Award for Excellence in Communication Theory: Amy Willemse

Communication Studies Postgraduate Scholarships: Lenny Hyde, Mark Rasquinha, Leilani Sitagata, Catherine Theunissen

Dean’s Award for Best Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies:Nicky Jonas

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Master of Communication Studies – Thesis: Carmel Rowden

Geraldine Lopdell Award for Diversity in Communication: Malia Latu

Radio NZ Pacific Award for Asia-Pacific Journalism: Sri Krishnamurthi

Oceania Media’s SPASIFIK Magazine Prize and the Pacific Media Centre’s Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting: Blessen Tom

The Radio Bureau Award for Top in Applied Radio Techniques: Matilda Phillips

The Radio Bureau Award for Top Radio Student: Brad Hemingway

NZ Herald Award for Top Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism: Nicky Jonas

NZ Herald Award for Award for the Outstanding Graduate in the BCS Journalism Major: Jamie Ensor

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Award for the Top Year 2 Public Relations Student:
Amy Wang

The winners of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Paul Dryden Tertiary Award 2018: Michael Bain, Amelia Cheng, Elizabeth Osborne, Cathrine Pierce

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand President’s Award AUT Top Public Relations Undergraduate Project Award 2018: Kelsey Schutte, Rita Lennon, Gabrielle Lum, Margot Rudolphe, Brittany Dustin

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand President’s Award AUT Top Public Relations Postgraduate Project Award 2018: Isabel Gailer, Belinda Morris, Sophie Sager

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand President’s Award for the Top Academic Student in the Public Relations Major: Hayley Smith

Fonterra Annual Public Relations Internship Award: Isabel Gailer, Kasper Humphrey, Katie Pettigrew

The Postgraduate Public Relations Global Virtual Team Winner (2018): Ayesha Asif

FCB Change Agency Award for Digital Media Excellence: Olivier Longley

School of Communication Studies Award for All-round Excellence in the Creative Industries Major: Ella Leilua

School of Communication Studies Award for Academic Excellence in the Creative Industries Major: Hannah Dowsett

QMS Awards for Advertising Creativity:
QMS Art Director of the Year: Gina Morgan
QMS Creative Strategist of the Year: Kezia Lynch
QMS Copywriter of the Year: Ambrose O’Meagher
QMS Creative Team of the Year: Gina Morgan & Eliza Romanos

Francis Porterfield Memorial Award for Excellence in Multi-Camera Production:
Niamh Swannack

School of Communication Studies Award for Achievement in Screen Production:
Emma Orchard

School of Communication Studies Award for Top Student in Screen Production:
Catherine Theunissen

Categories: PMC network

Pasifika and diversity strong ‘winners’ at AUT media awards night

Asia Pacific Report - Thu, 18/04/2019 - 10:42am

By Michael Andrew

Diversity was a winner at AUT’s School of Communication Studies annual awards last night with several Pacific Media Centre contributors taking out top prizes.

Digital postgraduate student Sri Krishnamurthi was awarded the RNZ Pacific Prize for Asia-Pacific Journalism for his coverage of the Fijian general elections last year.

“It means a lot to me and it means a lot to Pacific people, in particular Pacific journalism,” he said.

READ MORE: How can journalists improve diversity in the media?

RNZ Pacific prize winner Sri Krishnamurthi … “Asia-Pacific journalism is something that is very dear to my heart.” Image: Michael Andrew/PMC

A strong sports news journalist working with a news agency for many years, last year was his first foray into Pacific political journalism.

He said there was a lack of awareness about the Pacific and its problems.

However, he plans to continue developing journalism in the region through doctoral studies.

“Asia-Pacific journalism is something that is very dear to my heart,” he said.

A veteran journalist from Fiji, Krishnamurthi praised Dr David Robie and the Pacific Media Centre, which he said was invaluable to AUT and to New Zealand.

Some of the diversity award winners, donors and staff at the AUT School of Communication Studies awards last night: Malia Latu (from left). RNZ Pacific’s Moera Tuilaepa, MC Star Kata, Sri Krishnamurthi, Blessen Tom (holding the Storyboard), Jim Marbrook, Professor David Robie, and Colin McKay (Geraldine Lopdell Trust). Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Coveted award
A former postgraduate student Blessen Tom was awarded the coveted Oceania Media’s SPASIFIK Magazine Prize and the PMC Storyboard Award for diversity reporting.

Tom, who reported on a range of diversity stories lst year and also co-produced the climate change documentary Banabans of Rabi for the PMC’s Bearing Witness project, said the award came as a surprise but it felt fantastic all the same.

“To get an award for diversity reporting is amazing because I never knew I could do it, and the New Zealand media is pretty white so I’m very proud.”

Tom is now working as a junior producer for the TVNZ show Fair Go. He said he would use the experience to pursue his passion as a documentary filmmaker.

Geraldine Lopdell Prize
Perhaps the most auspicious award of the night was the new Geraldine Lopdell prize for Diversity in Communication, named after the teacher, artist and kitemaker who passed away a year ago.

She was a “captivating story teller” and a firm believer in the stories and views of Pasifika women.

The award was set up by her partner, Colin McKay, and daughters Alex and Anne Woodley, to celebrate her “a life well lived” and to encourage Pasifika women to share their stories and pursue communication studies.

“We just felt that we should honour her in a way that would be appropriate,” McKay said.

“And we feel a bit of sadness and a good deal of happiness today.”

Malia Latu speaking at the AUT School of Communication Studies awards last night … “never give up.” Image: Del Abcede/PMC

Reward for hard work
The inaugural winner of the $1200 award was Malia Latu, a master’s student whose work explores the representation of Pasifika women and talanoa journalism.

She said winning the award made all her hard work worthwhile.

“It means everything, it means to push forward and it means to never give up even when you feel like nothings there. There is always something.”

She said it was important to be vocal and to encourage Pasifika woman to speak up and share their stories, as many of them feared the judgment of others.

Deputy head of school Frances Nelson with creative industries major excellence winner Ella Leilua. Image: Del Abcede/PMC

She also planned to continue her work and projects through doctoral studies.

Alex Woodley said that although the night was tough and full of mixed emotions, her mother, Geraldine, would have been honoured to see Malia receive the award.

“I think that mum and our whole family would be really excited that this incredible, vibrant, clever, gorgeous young woman is doing research on women in the Pacific. We are totally honoured.”

PMC director Professor David Robie said he was delighted the Lopdell family had initiated this prize and the centre was able to play a part in supporting diversity awards.

He also thanked the AUT Foundation for its support.

Categories: PMC network

Suspected New Seabird Species Discovered by Heritage

Pacific Scoop - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:34pm

Press Release – Heritage Expeditions

Pioneering Christchurch-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions is ruffling feathers within the birding fraternity following its discovery of what is believed to be a new species of seabird.Pioneering Christchurch-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions is ruffling feathers within the birding fraternity following its discovery of what is believed to be a new species of seabird.

Dubbed the ‘Heritage Lava Petrel’ and described as having “prominent white markings on both its upper and underwing, dark chocolate brown plumage and a massive bill” the suspected new species was recorded by Heritage Expeditions’ expert birding guides Chris Collins, Lisle Gwynn and Sav Saville some 250 nautical miles south of the small island of Santa Ana in the Solomon Islands during popular birding voyage ‘Western Pacific Odyssey’.

The sightings of four of the unique birds caused a stir among the guides and experienced seabirders alike who all agreed the birds’ striking plumage, unusual flight and long slender wings, not dissimilar from a Tahiti Petrel, was “quite unlike anything in ornithological literature” after viewing photos and video footage captured on board expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby.

Heritage Expeditions General Manager David Bowen said the authentic expedition cruise company’s exploration of the world’s most remote and hard-to-reach shores and coastlines ensured guests were able to experience one-of-a-kind wildlife and cultural encounters.

“Most of our birders come with their species lists of what they hope to see and, every once in a while, a very lucky few get to add an entire new species to that list when they journey with Heritage Expeditions.”

It’s not the first time a new species has been discovered during a Heritage Expeditions voyage, the elusive New Caledonian Storm-Petrel was first spotted on the ‘Western Pacific Odyssey’ in 2008, while an unknown breeding site for the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper was discovered in 2016 during Russian Far East voyage ‘Siberia’s Forgotten Coast’.

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Categories: PMC network

Prabowo camp to ‘report US journalist’ over Indonesian poll strategy exposé

Asia Pacific Report - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 9:21pm

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The party backing a presidential challenger in today’s Indonesian general election claims it is reporting an independent US journalist to police over accusations of spreading “lies or fake news”.

CNN Indonesia reports the deputy chairperson of Prabowo Subianto’s Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Arief Poyuono, will report journalist Allan Nairn over the accusations.

The alleged fake news referred to by Poyuono is an article by Nairn revealing Prabowo’s strategy to weaken his political opponents if he is elected as president in the presidential election.

READ MORE: Indonesians await ‘quick count’ after country’s biggest election

Incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and First Lady Iriana cast their ballots at a polling station during the presidential and legislative elections in Jakarta today. Image: Seto Wardhana/Jakarta Post

Nairn published the report on his blog titled “Minutes of a Closed Meeting Between Prabowo Subianto and His Team” (Notulensi Rapat Tertutup Prabowo Subianto dan Tim).

“We will make the report tomorrow. We will also ask the police to arrest Allan Nairn who is currently in Indonesia. Because he has produced fake news in Indonesia”, Poyuono told CNN Indonesia.

In his report, Nairn- a highly respected journalist writing on Indonesian affairs – said that on December 21 last year Prabowo held a closed meeting at his private residence on Jl Jalan Kertanegara Number 4 in South Jakarta that took place between 9pm and 11.15 pm.

Nairn said that the meeting — which was attended by people in Prabowo’s inner circle including Gerindra deputy chairperson and Fadli Zon and Poyuono — discussed concrete steps to deal with strategic issues such as the Prabowo presidential ticket supporting an Islamic caliphate and political grudges against Gerindra.

List of names
In relation to the caliphate issue, the meeting decided to appoint retired TNI (Indonesian military) Major General Arifin Seman to draft a list of names that would be suitable as the new head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).

“A massive internal reshuffle inside BIN will be directed towards an attack on political opponents and to paralyse the HTI [the banned extremist Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia], the FPI [the hardline Islamic Defenders Front], JAD [the banned terrorist group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah] and equivalent groups,” wrote Nairn in the report.

“BIN’s other task will be to weaken [Prabowo’s] coalition parties to increase Gerindra’s domination in the administration: the PKS [the Islamic based Justice and Prosperity Party] and the Democrat Party will have their wings clipped completely through various old and new corruption cases,” read the report.

In relation to political grudges, Nairn’s report said that Fadli Zon and PKS politician and current deputy House of Representatives Speaker Fahri Hamzah would be tasked with selecting the next Attorney-General.

“The new Attorney-General’s principle task will be to convict as many political opponents as possible from the PDI-Perjuangan [President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle], NasDem [the National Democrats], the Golkar Party, the PKB [National Awakening Party] and the PPP [the United Development Party],” wrote Nairn in the report.

Nairn claims to have obtained the information about the meeting from an intelligence source. Poyuono on the other hand, who is cited as having attended the meeting, says that Nairn’s report is nothing more than a hoax or fake news.

Poyuono conceded that he was once interviewed by Nairn on March 20, 2019. During the interview, Poyuono said Nairn asked many questions, one of which was about the December 21 meeting at Kertanegara.

‘No meeting’
“He asked me ‘did I take part or not?”. I said no, because there was indeed no meeting on December 21. If there had been a meeting [on that date] I would most certainly have taken part because I am a [party] leader and close to Prabowo,” said Poyuono.

Poyuono said that Nairn is a “made to order” journalist who has been tasked with destroying Prabowo in the lead up to the presidential and legislative elections. Poyuono even claimed to have data which corroborates the accusation that Nairn is a journalist who is paid to write specific reports.

He presented CNN Indonesia with evidence of this in the form of a money transfer receipt of around US$2 million paid into Nairn’s DBS Bank account in Singapore. Poyuono said that the money was part of a payment made to Nairn to slander and build a black campaign against Prabowo and the TNI.

“He has indeed been tasked by people who have placed an order with him. By our political opponents. People still remember when during the Jakarta Pilkada [gubernatorial election in 2017] he said the TNI was planning a coup d’etat, it turned out to be a hoax. The Pilkada proceeded smoothly and peacefully,” said Poyuono.

Nairn himself denies Poyuono’s accusations. On his Twitter account @AllanNairn14, Nairn said Prabowo’s team had sent the press a fake Singapore bank receipt to the press containing the alleged transfer of US$2 million.

“I think that this is an indirect confirmation by Prabowo that the report is accurate and he is trying hard to discredit it,” wrote Nairn.

Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Gerindra Polisikan Allan Nairn Soal Dokumen Siasat Prabowo”.

Categories: PMC network

INDONESIA: Elections: Political system has ‘failed’ minorities – like Papuans

Pacific Media Watch - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 11:58am

By David Robie
AUCKLAND (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): A human rights defender and researcher has warned in a new book published on the eve of the Indonesian national elections today that the centralised political system has failed many of the country’s 264 million people – especially minorities and those at the margins, such as in West Papua.

read more

Categories: PMC network

Indonesian election: ‘Our most disregarded Pacific neighbour’

Asia Pacific Report - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:19am

By the Asia Media Centre

Up to 193 million eligible voters in Indonesia will go to the polls today, in what will be the world’s largest single-day election.

The election will see incumbent president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo go head-to-head with Prabowo Subianto, a former general in the Indonesian armed forces who lost to Jokowi in 2014.

This election is also significant as for the first time in Indonesia’s history, the presidential and legislative elections will be held on the same day.

READ MORE: Indonesia’s political system has ‘failed’ its minorities – like West Papuans

Why should New Zealand care? We put the question to some Indonesia experts…

Lester Finch, Director, AUT Indonesia Centre:
“Which country is New Zealand’s most disregarded Pacific neighbour? An archipelago of 17,000 islands, more than 300 languages spoken and 260 million people. Yes, it’s Indonesia.

“This large country is full of economic and social development opportunities for entrepreneurial Kiwis yet we don’t know what’s going on there. Many don’t know that the presidential elections are to be held this month and the outcome of those elections will have an impact on New Zealand.

“Indonesian language is a doorway to the culture. Australia has around 20 institutions teaching the Indonesian language while New Zealand has just one. Why? We just haven’t yet realised the opportunities Indonesia has for us.

“Indonesia is an exciting country with fine traditions and culture, especially its vibrant music and dance. Let’s pay some attention and step out of our comfort zone to get to know wonderful Indonesia and find out about the two individuals vying for the presidency.”

Natasha Hamilton-Hart, Director, New Zealand Asia Institute:
“For New Zealand, the election carries two major points of relevance. First, there are the implications for Indonesia’s future trajectory with regard to human rights and civic freedoms. While neither candidate is a liberal democrat, Prabowo’s platform, history and allies clearly speak to a greater willingness to espouse illiberal limits on individual and minority freedoms.

“Second, there are implications for Indonesia’s trade policy. Both candidates endorse strongly nationalist programmes, including a policy of self-sufficiency in food – which directly impinges on New Zealand’s export prospects in key products, including meat and dairy.

“There is at least a rhetorical difference, however. In the campaign, Prabowo has strongly criticised rising food imports in 2018, leaving Jokowi to defend these imports as necessary to maintain food price stability.

“Jokowi’s administration has been forced to allow these import increases despite an underlying commitment to an ostensibly pro-farmer self-sufficiency strategy. Imports have risen when food prices spiked, but the longer term strategy is likely to be here to stay.”

Sharyn Graham Davies, Associate Professor of Social Sciences at Auckland University of Technology:
“Given New Zealand’s recent overwhelming support of its Muslim community, including women donning the head scarf on the Friday following the Christchurch massacre, it is a shame that New Zealand will not find a kindred spirit in the next president of Indonesia.

“Both of the front-runners have poor track records when it comes to human rights. New Zealand rightly finds it difficult to ignore human rights abuses on the diplomatic stage.

“While the incumbent, Jokowi, is perhaps not malevolent, he has done little to support women or the LGBT community since his election in 2014. While Jokowi’s lacklustre presidency may not be a huge cause for concern, his appointment of vice-presidential candidate, Ma’ruf Amin, is an ultra-conservative Islamic hardliner who thinks Indonesia should be cleansed of its LGBT community.

“Distressingly, though, the Jokowi-Ma’ruf ticket almost looks almost benign compared to the other front-runner, Prabowo. Having married the daughter of former authoritarian ruler Suharto, Prabowo is implicated in a number of mass murders.

“New Zealand needs to pay attention to the upcoming Indonesian election to get to grips with how it will deal with our most populous neighbour when further human rights abuses occur.”

Indi Soemardjan, Chairman of the New Zealand-Indonesia Friendship Council:
“New Zealanders can start looking at the size of this election. There will be 800,000 polling stations, six million election workers, and the most complicated single-day ballot in global history.

“Altogether, there are more than 245,000 candidates running for more than 20,000 national and local legislative seats across hundreds of islands, in addition to the headline presidential contest.

“Paper ballots and nails are simply the method. No electronic nor digital ballots used.

“Unfortunately, this has also been considered the most divisive presidential election in Indonesia due to the fact that both candidates have effectively used social media channels (and millions of chat/WhatsApp groups) to create public opinion regarding their ‘ideological differences’, if any.”

Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Research Professor, Indonesia Institute of Sciences:
“With its population of over 260 million people, its strategic location at the crossroads between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and between Asia and Australia and its dynamic economy, Indonesia is the largest member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and plays a pivotal role in promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity.

“Indonesia is also the world’s largest Muslim nation, the world’s third largest democracy as well as a member of the G20. Indonesia prides itself as a country where Islam, democracy, modernity and women empowerment walk hand-in hand.

“Indonesia’s legislative and presidential elections serve to affirm its identity as a vibrant democracy, while at the same time the rise in identity politics and the proliferation of fake news have become serious concerns as both can undermine democracy. The results of Indonesia’s elections are clearly of interest to Indonesia’s neighbours, including New Zealand, as they will determine the direction that Indonesia will take in the next five years.”

Chris Naziris, lawyer at MKK Jakarta and Wellington:
“The 2019 election will be defined by competing populist policies, economic nationalism and rising religious conservatism. These could significantly impact New Zealand’s $1 billion worth of exports, the security of the region and the safety of New Zealanders.

“Indonesia has been a pluralistic and largely tolerant nation but continued low mineral prices (Indonesia’s extractive economy mirrors Australia’s) and increasingly ineffective nationalistic economic policies have failed to lift millions out of extreme poverty.

“This has led to frustration and resentment among many, especially outside Jakarta. In a time of growing US-China tensions, BREXIT, and European economic stagnation, the stability of Indonesia, as the largest economy in Southeast Asia is vital to New Zealand.”

Siah Hwee Ang, Chair in Business in Asia:
“Indonesia is a close neighbour to New Zealand and its economic ties with New Zealand have strengthened in the last couple of years. Indonesia’s trade and investment policies might adjust depending on the outcomes of the coming election.

“This will have an impact on New Zealand businesses either currently trading with our Southeast Asia neighbour or those with the market in sight.

“Even intermediaries that engage with Indonesian counterparts will have to keep themselves abreast of the potential change in political and business climate in Indonesia. More broadly, Indonesia’s election will have ramifications for ASEAN as a whole and the wider Asia-Pacific, which New Zealand is a part of.

“There will be ripple effects on trade and investment fronts, even if trade agreements may have ring-fenced some of these potential effects. Overall, clearly the election in the largest economy in ASEAN would have both direct and indirect effects on business engagements with the country and the wider context of the Asia-Pacific.”

Compiled by the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Asia Media Centre.

Categories: PMC network

Fiji to set up relocation trust fund for villages hit by climate change

Asia Pacific Report - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:00am

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A Relocation Trust Fund will be set up by the Fiji government to help villages facing the threat of climate change.

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the fund would be announced in the upcoming budget, reports FBC News.

Speaking at the Ministerial Finance Dialogue at the United Nations in New York, Sayed-Khaiyum said a small percentage of money would be taken from the Environment and Climate Adaptation levy to set up the fund.

WATCH VIDEO: Banabans of Rabi – climate change documentary

He said 43 Fijian villages were under threat from sea level rise and might need to be moved to higher ground.

The fund would also be used to develop adaptive measures as an alternative to relocation.

If relocations were necessary, however, he stressed the need for a “holistic approach”.

“If we do relocate, then we have to build in the holistic approach too, for example sustainable livelihood, new way of livelihood – that they need to develop.”

The announcement comes a week after the University of the South Pacific (USP) journalism programme received a US$20,000 grant to boost climate change reporting.

Categories: PMC network

Vanuatu child killer given life sentence in justice for little Florence

Asia Pacific Report - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 9:30am

By Richard M. Nanua and Glenda Willie in Port Vila

A Vanuatu child rapist and murderer has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The sentence — one of the harshest penalties ever in Vanuatu’s court history — was handed down to Bob Robert inside a packed courtroom yesterday morning.

Close relatives of the victim said the penalty was satisfactory to the family who gave up everything to take Robert to justice for taking the life of their only daughter, six-year-old Florence Iaruel.

READ MORE: Vanuatu Daily Post editorial – tears for little Florence

Florence’s mother burst into tears when Supreme Court Justice Gustaaf Andrée Wiltens started recalling moments of the final horrific hours that her daughter had to go through, without any help, before her dead body was found near a plantation at Etas in April 18, 2018.

Tomorrow will mark a year since the day Florence was tragically taken from her bereaved family.

“The poor innocent 6-year-old child was abused by Robert, while he was on parole, in ways that most people in our society simply cannot imagine or understand,” Justice Wiltens said.

“The sexual offending was truly depraved and reprehensible conduct.”

‘Boxing skills’
The Supreme Court Judge added: “Prior to using his undoubted boxing skills and experience to end Florence’s life in the most violent way imaginable, Robert treated her in an abominable way for his sexual gratification.”

The court heard that on the evening of April, 17, 2018, and through to dawn of the following morning, Robert had been drinking kava and alcohol.

Just after midnight he entered two separate homes with the intent to criminally offend. At the first house, Robert went to the bedside of a young 9-year-old girl and knelt down over the girl before her mother sounded the alarm.

At the second home, he attempted to enter into a room occupied by a young 4-year-old girl who was sleeping inside. He fled when the mother sounded the alarm again.

Justice Wiltens agreed that Robert’s intention when he entered both houses was to have sex with a young child.

After two failed attempts, Robert went to where Florence was. He admitted to forcing her to go with him with the intention “to have sex with her”.

He blocked her mouth to stop her from crying out loud and took her some distance away from their sleeping house where the sexual offending took place. He then punched her chest repeatedly to end her life, in fear of going back to jail.

Body discovered
Her body was discovered by her uncle and two cousins at about 6am on April 18, near a sandalwood plantation.

A post-mortem examination was conducted by Dr Kaloulgivaki, two days after the killing. The cause of the late victim’s death was certified to be severe hemothorax cause by severe traumatic chest injuries and multiple other traumatic injuries which were caused by blunt force (a pooling of blood in the chest cavity).

“The examination revealed that prior to death, multiple traumatic injuries had been caused by blunt force trauma.”

DNA samples were also collected and matched that of the defendant.

Justice Wiltens acknowledged three mitigating factors. These included a custom ceremony which had been performed on behalf of the defendant. He did not participate in that ceremony.

The judge said the ceremony did not amount to significant mitigation.

Robert had pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. The judge also noted that the pleas were not at the first available opportunity. He had entered his pleas after taking legal advice.

Case a precedent
Justice Wiltens also noted that the defendant cooperated with the police during the investigation period.

The final sentences imposed on Robert are as follows: four years imprisonment on each charge for entering a dwelling house and attempting to enter a dwelling house (charges 1 and 2); for abducting a person under 18 years (charge 3), Robert was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment; for aggravated sexual assault on a child under 15 years (charges 4 and 5), he was sentenced to life imprisonment and for premeditated intentional homicide (charge 6), Robert was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Justice Wiltens said given the gravity of Robert’s offending there was no possibility for any of the sentences to be suspended.

While the defence legal counsel is yet to indicate whether or not it will file an appeal, members of the public have welcomed the Supreme Court decision.

Minutes after the sentence was imposed, the Vanuatu Daily Post observed the massive debate it sparked on social media as members of the public applauded the verdict as a milestone in Vanuatu’s judiciary system after criticising the judicial system for being too lenient with murderers and rapists in the past.

The sentence yesterday also reflects the amendment to the Penal Code [CAP 135] by former Justice Minister Ronald Warsal in 2017, which increases the maximum penalty for unlawful sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 13 years from 14 years in jail to life imprisonment.

This case has set a precedence to any similar case in the future and will also serve as a deterrent message to all offenders.

Richard M. Nanua and Glenda Willie are reporters with the Vanuatu Daily Post.

Categories: PMC network

RSF’s Turkey representative defends himself in court

Reporters Sans Frontières - Wed, 17/04/2019 - 2:38am

As an international delegation from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) looked on, RSF Turkey representative Erol Önderoğlu

Categories: Middle channel

Pakistani investigative reporter accused of “cyber-terrorism”

Reporters Sans Frontières - Tue, 16/04/2019 - 9:00pm
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the trumped-up charges of online terrorism and defaming “respected institutions” on which a Pakistani reporter is due to appear in court in the southern city of Karachi tomorrow. The case has been designed to intimidate and silence Pakistan’s journalists, RSF said.

Categories: Middle channel

RSF index 2019: regional analysis

Reporters Sans Frontières - Tue, 16/04/2019 - 7:58pm

Categories: Middle channel

Indonesia’s political system has ‘failed’ its minorities – like West Papuans

Asia Pacific Report - Tue, 16/04/2019 - 2:43pm

Indonesian army and police gather villagers in several sub-districts in Nduga and try to force them to “admit” to accusations that they are members of the pro-independence West Papua National Liberation Army (WPNLA). Video: Cafe Pacific

By David Robie

A human rights defender and researcher has warned in a new book published on the eve of the Indonesian national elections tomorrow that the centralised political system has failed many of the country’s 264 million people – especially minorities and those at the margins, such as in West Papua.

Author Andreas Harsono also says a “radical change is needed in the mindset of political leaders” and he is not optimistic for such changes after the election.

Harsono is author of Race, Islam and Power: Ethnic and Religious Violence in Post-Suharto Indonesia, a book based on 15 years of research and travel between Sabang in Aceh in the west and Merauke in West Papua in the East.

READ MORE: Indonesian elections – environment a missing topic

Race, Islam and Power – Andreas Harsono’s new book on human rights in Indonesia. Image: Monash University

Founding President Sukarno used the slogan “from Sabang to Merauke” when launching a campaign – ultimately successful – to seize West Papua in 1961.

But, as Harsono points out, the expression should really be from Rondo Island (an unpopulated islet) to Sota (a remote border post on the Papua New Guinean boundary.

Harsono, a former journalist and Human Rights Watch researcher since 2008, argues that Indonesia might have been more successful by creating a federation rather than a highly centralised state controlled from Jakarta.

“Violence on post-Suharto Indonesia, from Aceh to West Papua, from Kalimantan to the Moluccas, is evidence that Java-centric nationalism is unable to distribute power fairly in an imagined Indonesia,” he says. “It has created unnecessary paranoia and racism among Indonesian migrants in West Papua.

Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono … violent repression has “created unnecessary paranoia and racism among Indonesian migrants in West Papua”. Image: HRW

‘They’re Melanesians’
“The Papuans simply reacted by saying they’re Melanesians – not Indonesians. They keep questioning the manipulation of the United Nations-sponsored Act of Free Choice in 1969.”

Critics and cynics have long dismissed what they see as a deeply flawed process involving only 1025 voters selected by the Indonesian military as the “Act of No Choice”.

Harsono’s criticisms have been borne out by a range of Indonesian activist and watchdog groups, who say the generals behind the two presidential frontrunners are ridden with political interests.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) have again warned that both presidential candidate tickets — incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and running mate Ma’ruf Amin as well as rival Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno — have close ties with retired TNI (Indonesian military) generals.

These retired officers are beholden to political interests and the prospect of resolving past human rights violations will “become increasingly bleak” no matter who is elected as the next president.

President Joko Widodo and his challenger retired general Prabowo Subianto … “problematic track record on human rights”. Image: Jakarta Post

Kontras noted that nine out of the 27 retired officers who are behind Widodo and Ma’ruf have a “problematic track record on human rights”.

“Likewise with Prabowo Subianto and Sandiaga Uno where there are eight retired officers who were allegedly involved in past cases of HAM violations”, said Kontras researcher Rivanlee Anandar.

Prabowo himself, a former special forces commander, is implicated in many human rights abuses. He has been accused of abduction and torture of 23 pro-democracy activists in the late 1990s and he is regarded as having knowledge of the killing hundreds of civilians in Santa Cruz massacre in Timor-Leste.

90,000 killed post-Sukarno
Harsono’s 280-page book, with seven chapters devoted to regions of Indonesia, documents an ”internally complex and riven nation” with an estimated 90,000 people having been killed in the decade after Suharto’s departure.

“In East Timor, President Suharto’s successor B. J. Habibie agreed to have a referendum [on independence]. Indonesia lost and it generated a bloodbath,” says Harsono.

“Habibie’s predecessors, Megawati Sukanoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, refused to admit [that] the Indonesian military’s occupation, despite a United Nations’ finding, had killed 183,000 people between 1975 and 1999.”

Harsono notes how in 1945 Indonesia’s “non-Javanese founders Mohammad Hatta, Sam Ratu Langie and Johannes Latuharhary wanted an Indonesia that was democratic and decentralised. They advocated a federation.”

However, Sukarno, Supomo and Mohammad Yamin wanted instead a centralised unitarian state.

“Understanding the urgency to fight incoming Dutch troops, Latuharhary accepted Supomo’s proposal but suggested the new republic hold a referendum as soon as it became independent. Sukarno agreed but this decision has never been executed.”

The establishment of a unitarian state “naturally created the Centre”, says Harsono. “Jakarta has been accumulated and controlling political, cultural, educational, economic, informational and ideological power.

Java benefits
“The closer a region to Jakarta, the better it will benefit from the Centre. Java is the closest to the Centre.

“The further a region is from the Centre, the more neglected it will be. West Papua, Aceh, East Timor and the Moluccas are among those furthest away from Jakarta.”

The centralised political system needed a “long and complex bureaucracy” and this “naturally created corruption”, Harsono explains.

“Indonesia is frequently ranked as the most corrupt country in Asia. Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd listed Indonesia as the most corrupt country in Asia in 2005.”

Harsono also notes how centralised power has helped a religious and ethnic majority that sees itself as “justified to have privileges and to rule over the minorities”.

The author cites the poet Leon Agasta as saying, “They’re the two most dangerous words in Indonesia: Islam and Java.” Muslim majority and Javanese dominance.

Harsono regards the Indonesian government’s response to demands for West Papuan “self-determination” as “primarily military and repressive: viewing Papuan ‘separatists’ as criminals, traitors and enemies of the Republic of Indonesia”.

He describes this policy as a “recipe for ongoing military operations to search for and destroy Papuan ‘separatists’, a term that could be applied to a large, if not overwhelming, portion of the Papuan population”.

Ruthless Indonesian military
“The Indonesian military, having lost their previous power bases in east Timor and Aceh, ruthlessly maintain their control over West Papua, both as a power base and as considerable source of revenue.

“The Indonesian military involvement in legal businesses, such as mining and logging, and allegedly, illegal businesses, such as alcohol, prostitution, extortion and wildlife smuggling, provide significant funds for the military as an organisation and also for individual officers.”

Pro-independence leaders have called on West Papuans to boycott the Indonesian elections tomorrow.

Andreas Harsono launched his journalism career as a reporter for the Bangkok-based Nation and the Kuala Lumpur-based Star newspapers. In the 1990s, he helped establish Indonesia’s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) – then an illegal group under the Suharto regime, and today the most progressive journalists union in the republic.

Harsono was also founder of the Jakarta-based Institute for the Studies on the Free Flow of Information and of the South East Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA).

In a separate emailed interview with me in response to a question about whether there was light at the end of the tunnel, Harsono replied: I do not want to sound pessimistic but visiting dozens of sites of mass violence, seeing survivors and families’ who lost their lost ones, I just realised that mass killings took place all over Indonesia.

“It’s not only about the 1965 massacres –despite them being the biggest of all– but also the Papuans, the Timorese, the Acehnese, the Madurese etc.

“Basically all major islands in Indonesia, from Sumatra to Papua, have witnessed huge violence and none of them have been professionally understood. The truth of those mass killings have not been found yet.”

Professor David Robie is director of the Pacific Media Centre.

Categories: PMC network

FIJI: Opposition seeks Malolo damage probe, criticises local media

Pacific Media Watch - Tue, 16/04/2019 - 11:31am

SUVA (RNZ Pacific/Asia Pacific Report/{Pacific Media Watch): Fiji’s opposition has called for a full investigation by an impartial committee into allegations of collusion by government officials in the destruction of reefs, foreshore and land on Malolo Island.

Earlier this month, the Chinese-backed company Freesoul Real Estate Development was ordered to repair the damage which it had caused during months of unconsented work on the reef and on land it did not own.

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Categories: PMC network