Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Activists give Indonesian leader details of Papuan deaths, political prisoners

Morning Star flag graphic: The Wire
From Pacific Media Watch

Pacific human rights activists have personally handed Indonesian President Joko Widodo a protest letter which includes a list of deaths and political prisoners in West Papua.

Written by West Papuan activists and signed by Greens leader Adam Bandt and Senator Richard Di Natale, the letter listed the names of 57 political prisoners charged with treason and held behind bars in seven cities across Indonesia, reports the community and indigenous radio The Wire.

The letter also included the names and ages of 243 civilians who have died during the Nduga military operation since December 2018, 110 of them children.

LISTEN TO THE WIRE: Letter given to President Widodo outlines West Papuan deaths

“These revelations ask the question of why President Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison would discuss economic ties and climate change, when human rights are at risk?”, The Wire asked.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Rappler challenges Duterte’s ‘media powers’ in democracy fight back

President Rodrigo Duterte with the press ... his powers to ban Rappler for two years challenged
in court. Image: Freeze frame/David Robie
By David Robie in Manila
Rappler
, the innovative online publisher that has been at the media freedom frontline in the Philippines for the past three years, has challenged President Rodrigo Duterte by taking the executive to the Supreme Court.

The news website has called on the court to rule on whether President Duterte – or the state executive branch – has the power to control the media.

It has asked the court to lift a nearly two-year coverage ban against Rappler for covering events involving President Duterte wherever he is in the Philippines or abroad.

READ MORE: The state of the Philippine media under Duterte – PCIJ
In a remarkable media freedom test case, Rappler has asked justices to clarify: Could the President pick and choose who is “legitimate media” and who is not?

It has also asked could Duterte restrict access to public events?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

'Monsters Inc' - Ampatuan massacre justice aftermath with more fear of warlords, corruption



                 The Rappler video feed on the Ampatuan convictions last month.

For decades, the feared Ampatuan clan held sway in the impoverished province of Maguindanao in Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Through a ruthless private army and a reported “propensity for beheadings”, the clan cultivated a culture of impunity. Now, however, reports David Robie, a courageous judge has challenged the horror by jailing the masterminds of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre for life.

SPECIAL REPORT: By David Robie in Manila

The families of the 58 victims – 32 of them journalists or media workers – had waited for 10 years for justice in the Philippines.

After so long, what is another couple of hours?

The Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao on 22 November 2009 was the world’s worst single attack on journalists and the worst elections-related violence in a country notorious for electoral mayhem.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Iran a hugely ‘friendly’ country behind the sabre-rattling


The fate of the "US Den of Espionage" ... Washington's embassy that was seized by Iranian protesters
along with 52 diplomat hostages during the revolution in 1978
is now a museum to US unpopularity in Tehran. Image: David Robie/PMC
Iran attracts an onslaught of negative media in New Zealand and Western media. But is it fair or deserved? David Robie has spent several weeks travelling in the country on sabbatical and finds the media negativity far from the reality of the “most friendly” country he has ever visited in the first of a three-part series.

THE HEADLINES were chilling as we flew into Turkey and then Iran. “All out war”, trumpeted The New Zealand Herald, as being an imminent response to last month’s surprise drone attack knocking out almost 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, blaming the attack on the Islamic Republic without convincing evidence.

President Donald Trump warned that the US was “locked and loaded” if Iran was found to be behind the attacks, and then later apparently backed off and relied on even heavier sanctions.

The next day the Herald belatedly ran the other side of the story, quoting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s response denying the allegations and warning that Iran would defend itself in the case of a US-Saudi attack while offering the “hand of friendship and brotherhood” for overseeing security in the Persian Gulf.

Houthi forces in neighbouring Yemen, invaded by a Saudi-led coalition in 2015 that led to widely condemned four-year civil war, claimed to have carried out the drone and rocket attack on the two oil installations at Abaiq and Khurais.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

West Papua’s road to 'independence', following the Timorese lead?


An Al Jazeera report on the protests and rioting in Papua this week in response to the racist attack in Surabaya. 

The groundswell of regional support continues to grow in the Pacific - and also globally - for West Papuan self-determination, writes DAVID ROBIE. The latest repression only adds to this momentum.

INDONESIA’s harsh policies towards West Papua ought to be scrapped. Whatever happened to the brief window of enlightenment ushered in by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2015 with promises of a more “open door” policy towards foreign journalists and human rights groups?

They were supposed to be seeing for themselves the reality on the ground. But apart from a trickle of carefully managed visits by selected journalists after the grand announcement – including two multimedia crews from RNZ Pacific and Māori Television in 2015 – no change really happened.

And the serious media freedom and human rights violations remain rampant.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Remembering environmental campaigner Steve Sawyer, 1956-2019

Steve Sawyer, Rongelap campaigner with the original Rainbow Warrior which was bombed by French secret service agents in July 1985 in Auckland, aboard the new Rainbow Warrior during the ship’s first visit to New Zealand. © Nigel Marple/Greenpeace
A tribute to STEVE SAWYER by former Rainbow Warrior captain PETER WILLCOX, who was skipper at the time of the Rongelap evacuation and the French bombing in 1985.

I MET Steve in 1981 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the first Rainbow Warrior. I was answering a job advert he had placed in the National Fisherman. We spoke in his cabin for a while, and then went to the mess to meet the crew.

One of the things Steve liked about the manager’s job on the RW was that he got to do real physical work as well as intellectual organising. The crew was all giving him a hard time about his painting technique. It seems the day before, Steve, while climbing down into an inflatable (not a rhib by a long shot), had stepped directly into a five-gallon bucket of paint.

That he took the ribbing good-naturedly and laughed with everyone else was to me an excellent sign of life on board that ship.

Steve was the first guy I ever worked for who was younger than I. I was 28, and he 25 in 1981. But I learned fast not to mess with him. He could argue you into a corner quickly, and he did not suffer fools.

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