Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Former military chief warns PNG soldiers could be ‘outgunned’ in Mendi strife

Deadly MAG 58 Model 60-20 machine guns mounted on a cabin-top truck in the Southern Highlands.
Image: PNGAttitude
From Asia Pacific Report

A former Papua New Guinea military commander has warned that he is “concerned, if not frightened” that the PNG Defence Force may be deploying police and soldiers in the troubled Southern Highlands province facing a deadly weapon.

Ex-Brigadier-General Jerry Singirok , a former commander of the PNGDF who arrested mercenaries deployed by the Sir Julius Chan government for the Bougainville war in the so-called Sandline crisis in 1997, has made his views known in independent media.

In an item published by PNG Attitude and EMTV journalist Scott Waide’s blog, Singirok described Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s government response to last week’s Mendi riots as a “premature state of emergency” and a “cheap, reckless and knee-jerk option”.

His comments have come at a time when the nation has been shocked by the display of high powered assault weapons by protesters since last week’s Mendi rioting.

It is clear that the government’s guns amnesty last year did little to encourage people to surrender their weapons, reports Loop PNG.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

'Free media' week killings - but don't forget crimes against Papuans


"Save Papuan Journalists" - a theme poster from last year's May 3 World Press Freedom Day event in Jakarta, Indonesia.
West Papuan media freedom issues tend to be "lost" in the standard press freedom reports on Indonesia.
Image: David Robie/Pacific Media Centre
By David Robie

MONDAY – just three days before today’s World Press Freedom Day – was the deadliest day for news media in Afghanistan in 17 years. The killing of nine journalists and media workers among 26 people who died in dual suicide bomb attacks in Kabul was the worst day for the press since the fall of the Taliban.

Five other journalists were wounded and a 10th journalist was shot and killed in a separate attack outside the capital.

Among the dead was Agence France-Presse chief photographer Shah Marai who left behind an extraordinary legacy of images.

READ MORE: Hatred of journalism threatens democracies

It was the also the most horrendous day for global media since the Ampatuan massacre on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao on 23 November 2009. A shocking 32 journalists were murdered that day, most of the total death toll of 58 in an ambush on a pre-election cavalcade.

To date nobody has been successfully brought to justice. The scores of private militia “owned” by the Ampatuan family alleged to have carried out the killings have got away with their vile crime almost scot-free.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ben Bohane photo that Facebook censored on an article about Indonesia

The original version of this photo, of West Papuan nambas (traditional penis gourds), which was published
in the weekend edition of the family newspaper Vanuatu Daily Post and then by Asia Pacific Report,
was deemed to have breached Facebook's "community standards". The photo was by award-winning
photojournalist Ben Bohane, who lives in Vanuatu.
BEN BOHANE: CHINA? NO, LET'S FACE THE ELEPHANT IN THE PACIFIC ROOM

BRIEFING: By Ben Bohane in Port Vila

China … China … China …

All the talk is of increasing Chinese influence in our region. But this is to wilfully see past the elephant in the room.

Contrary to most commentary, the biggest destabilising player in Melanesia over the past five years is not China but Indonesia, which through its “look east” policy has deliberately paralysed the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) while financing local MPs and political parties across the Pacific to try and stop snowballing regional support for West Papuan independence.

Indonesia already has Peter O’Neill onside in PNG, and Voreqe Bainimarama in Fiji, and is busy trying to neutralise Vanuatu, the Solomons and FLNKS (Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front) leaders in New Caledonia, who are resisting Indonesian influence.

READ MORE: The Vanuatu Daily Post and the photo censored by Facebook

The reason Vanuatu and other Melanesian nations may be turning to China is because they are more worried about Indonesia, which has directly threatened Vanuatu over its strong diplomatic support for the West Papuans.

Chinese 'baseless rumour', Nauru 'justice' for refugees and Fiji diabetes



David Robie talks on 95bFM about current Pacific issues


Reuben McLaren of 95bFM talks to Professor David Robie, director of the Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology, on the centre's Southern Cross radio programme.

David speaks about various upheavals around the Pacific, including the alleged Chinese military "base plans" for Vanuatu, Nauru abolishing its Appeal Court in Australia, and a huge diabetes health bill blowout in Fiji.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Flashback to the 1968 My Lai massacre: 'Something dark and bloody'


RT's special report on the My Lai massacre and the cover-up of this atrocity.


THE MELBOURNE Sunday Observer -- the original newspaper of that name which campaigned against Australian involvement as a US surrogate in the Vietnam War -- published photographs of the My Lai massacre in December 1969. It was prosecuted for "obscenity" for reporting the atrocity but the charge was later dropped.

Image: David Robie from Al Jazeera
Michael Cannon was editor and David Robie chief subeditor at the time (and later the editor). The photographs were published by arrangement with Life Magazine and were later shown to Federal MPs in an attempt to change Australian government support for the war.

The photographs were published during a period when newspapers in Australia rarely published pictures of bodies, and certainly not as victims of "atrocities" by "our side". This website has a small selection of the photographs published by the Observer.

The Sunday Observer was the springboard for the launching of Nation Review in 1970:

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Harsh response lessons abound in wake of PNG’s ‘invisible’ quake

Timu village from the top showing the site where 11 people were buried by landslips during the earthquake on
26 February 2018. Four of the bodies have been recovered, seven are still buried, including five children.
Image: Sylvester Gawi/Graun Blong Mi- My Land
By David Robie

Tomorrow Papua New Guinea is marking two weeks since the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that devastated parts of Hela, Southern Highlands and Western Highlands provinces on February 26. Officials still have little idea of the full scale of the death and damage, because of the remote rugged terrain involved in what has been described by the BBC as the “invisible quake” – at least to the outside world. However, more than 100 people have died with landslides engulfing entire villages.

Some Papua New Guinean journalists have been doing an admirable job reporting the disaster to international media as well as their own people in difficult and risky circumstances – journalists such as EMTV’s deputy editor Scott Waide and NBC’s Sylvester Gawi. When communications were difficult through mainstream media connections, they have used their personal blogs. Here is the latest blog from Gawi republished from Asia Pacific Report:

BRIEFING: By Sylvester Gawi in Tari, Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea’s Highlands earthquake disaster has brought to light some of the many things that need to be considered in assisting those affected by disaster and restoring vital infrastructures and communication links between relief agencies and the people.

The response to the 7.5 magnitude earthquake on February 26 took almost a week for the National Disaster Centre to find out statistics of people who were affected, casualties, homes and food gardens destroyed and how to deliver relief supplies to those affected.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where were the Pacific activists and independent media at climate summit?

Papua New Guinea’s Northern Province Governor Gary Juffa …he asked what about the climate
change activists and West Papuan advocates? Where were they? Image: David Robie/PMC

By David Robie at Te Papa

A recent Andy Marlette cartoon published by the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, depicted a bathtub-looking Noah’s Ark with a couple of stony-faced elephants on board with a sodden sign declaring “Climate change is a hoax”.

The other animals on board floating to safety were muttering among themselves: “The elephants won’t admit that these 100-year events are happening once a month …”

At the other end of the globe in Wellington this week for the second Pacific Ocean Climate Conference at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, I encountered a fatalistic message from a Tongan taxi driver counting down the hours before the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Gita struck the New Zealand capital after wreaking a trail of devastation in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

He had it all worked out: “We don’t need climate conferences,” he said. “Just trust in God and we’ll survive.”

However, a key takeaway message from the three-day conference was just how urgent action is needed by global policymakers, especially for the frontline states in the Pacific – Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, where none of the sprawling atolls that make up those countries are higher than 2m above sea level.

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