Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indonesians shoot Papuan strikers – new Pacific media freedom report targets oppressors

© 2011 Malcolm Evans PJR
THIS Malcolm Evans cartoon in the latest Pacific Journalism Review spotlights the blood on Indonesia’s hands in four decades of occupation in West Papua. Tension has been building up since early August as thousands of Papuans prepare for their Third Papuan People's Congress in Jayapura. The strife has escalated and erupted into shooting on Monday by Indonesian security forces at the Freeport-McMoran gold and copper mine at Timika, Papuan Province, as they tried to suppress striking miners. At least one man was shot dead and about a dozen others wounded.

Kontras, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence has condemned the shooting of the Freeport workers who were seeking negotiations with the management of the company. Since the strike began on September 15 there has been no sign that the management is seeking to provide any space for peaceful dialogue which could address the issues for both sides.

At the time of the shooting on October 10, about 8000 workers were involved in the protest against the company for recruiting new workers to replace those now on strike. The strikers marched from their SBSI trade union headquarters to the mine drains, a distance of about 500 metres along a road that was six metres wide. A short distance away, hundreds of policemen were standing on guard and they opened fire. Petrus Ayamiseba a catering worker at the company was shot in the waist and died.

As human rights protests gathered momentum this week, Pacific Journalism Review was being published with a comprehensive 39-page report on Pacific media freedom. The PJR report quite rightly focused on West Papua as the worst territory for human rights abuses against journalists. In fact, West Papua is now considerably worse than Fiji in terms of brutal assaults on media freedom. The research journal, published by the Pacific Media Centre, said in an editorial:
By far the most serious case of media freedom violations in the Pacific is in Indonesian-ruled West Papua — far from international scrutiny … In August, in particular, “sustained repression has also hit the news media and journalists”. At least two journalists have been killed in West Papua, five others abducted and 18 assaulted in the past year.
Ten West Papuan activists were arrested by Indonesian authorities in Jayapura last week for being in possession of material that featured the banned West Papuan Morning Star flag of independence.

Poengky Indarti, executive director of the Indonesian human rights monitor Imparsial, said recently: “Freedoms of expression, association and assembly are routinely violated in Papua, which seriously fuels tensions. Besides, gross human rights abuses, such as acts of torture, remain unaccounted for.”

This free media report, compiled by Pacific Media Watch contributing editor Alex Perrottet and Pacific Media Centre director Dr David Robie with a team of contributors, including West Papua Media editor Nick Chesterfield, is the most comprehensive and robust media freedom dossier published in recent years in the region.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Australian treatment of asylum seekers 'global embarrassment', says Shetty

Image : Tehran Times

SALIL SHETTY, secretary-general of Amnesty International, has been an outspoken advocate for the Global South who doesn't pull punches. He has travelled extensively in his first year since taking the helm of the international human rights group and has put priority on building globall grassroots links and has paid close attention to the Arab Spring. He stewardship is a refreshing era. It isn't surprising given his own role as former director of the United Nations Millennium Programme where he campaigned against poverty and his earlier background in Bangalore, India: "With his mother active in women’s groups and his [journalist] father with the Dalit movement, his home became a hub for local and national activists. Since his student days, when a state of emergency was declared in 1976, and as the president of his college student’s union, Salil Shetty has been actively campaigning against the curtailment of human rights."

Now his attention is currently on Downunder. He has already rapped Australia over its own human rights record, especially over asylum seekers, and he will be in New Zealand tomorrow. This is what he had to say about Australia in the ABC's Nightline interview:

The chief of Amnesty International says Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and Indigenous people is deeply disturbing and an international embarrassment.

In his first interview while in Australia, Amnesty secretary-general Salil Shetty told ABC's
Lateline that Western nations, including Australia, were rapidly losing credibility when it came to human rights.

He says the Federal government's stymied Malaysia Solution is not in line with international refugee laws.

"Australia should know better," he said.
"It is simply not acceptable because they are very familiar with what is acceptable legally and what is not.

"There is a legal side and also a humane side.

"I don't believe it is in consonance with Australian people's values either. I think it is wrong on all counts."

Amnesty International also remains critical of the Northern Territory intervention.

Shetty says it breaches the Racial Discrimination Act, and talks down to Indigenous people.

"That is the other blight on the otherwise decent human rights record and we are talking about a half a million people," he said.

"Sometimes people think that we are talking about a handful of people, but if you look at the current practices and policies in the Northern Territory what it is doing effectively is widening the gap, not closing the gap."

After visiting remote Indigenous communities and a detention centre, Shetty will meet Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd and other politicians in a fortnight.

"This is a very critical moment ... on the issue of asylum seekers and the issue in the way in which they are addressing the Aboriginal people's problems. They have to really raise the game and meet their international obligations," he said.

Shetty says it is one thing to meet and speak with a politician, the question he asks is what will they do with the information.

Criticism of the West

Shetty also warns Western countries to stop lecturing other failing countries and acting as the world's sheriffs or deputy sheriff.

"If they are going to be lecturing people that have to shape up domestically and in their foreign policies, it is a kind of shape up or shut up message," he said.

The West is already under fire for its inconsistent response to the current turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

Shetty says the international action in Libya has not been matched in the troubled countries of Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

"Cosying up to [Moamar] Gaddafi but also cosying up to [Hosni] Mubarak before that, but I mean [Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali - there was this American sort of thing: 'he might be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch' kind of thing," he said.

"The people in the Middle East and North Africa and indeed in many developing countries look at all of these interventions with a great deal of suspicion."

Amnesty's chief also points to other areas as worrying: the use of the death penalty in the United States, most recently the execution of Troy Davis, and the US use of torture in the war on terrorism.

"This is simply unacceptable and this is where the issue of double standards and hypocrisy really starts to show up," he said.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Behind the 'French farce' and Kiwi rugby arrogance

French coach Marc Lièvremont ... pensive. Photo: Planet Rugby

EXTRAORDINARY HYPE in the New Zealand media this week about the alleged France "B" team playing the All Blacks this weekend in the Rugby World Cup. In fact, 11 of the French players have tasted victory (plus two among the reserves) over New Zealand, and some twice! This thanks to KiwiRooster:

The likes of Peter Bills and Chris Rattue are not exactly what we call journalists of investigation, they are more into the trashy business of making sensational stories. Hence the reason why Peter Bills does not feel he has to justify his rant by telling us which French players he would have selected. Not mentioning the fact that Peter Bills does not represent the whole of New Zealand, maybe not even part of Great Britain, given he is apparently British.

Anyone who has watched the French games against Japan then Canada must have realised that neither Trinh-Duc nor Harinordoquy performed well. (That's an understatement). Bonnaire and Parra did much better. Now, to call that team second string is utterly arrogant:

Poux(*)- Swarzweski(*) - Ducalcon

Bonnaire(*) - Picamoles(**) - Dussautoir(*)

Yachvili(*) - Parra

Medard(**) - Mermoz(**) - Rougerie(*) - Clerc(*)


On the bench: Harinordoquy(*) and Servat (*) might come in as impact players.

(*) players from the RWC 2007 Cardiff game

(**) players from the 2009 Dunedin game

Ducalcon and Forestier (who is unfortunately not in this World Cup) formed the best forward pack in the whole French championship with their club Castres Olympiques this season. For any French supporters it is not a surprise to see him here, especially since Thomas Domingo is injured and Sylvain Marconnet got smashed to pieces by pretty much every prop in this squad.

Allez les Bleues!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forum flagship initiative for homegrown Pacific journalism

MELBOURNE-based Fiji academic and commentator Dr Mosese Waqa (caricature) had some kind words to say about the Pacific Scoop coverage of the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum earlier this month. He wasn't alone, a heap of praise was thrown towards our postgraduate students who were on the job. Some 47 stories (many of them in-depth) were filed along with a couple of video reports and photojournalism packages. See the above VJ report by Christopher Chang and Alexander Winkler as an example. Waqa writes:

Without Pacific Media Watch [read Pacific Scoop], the overall media coverage of the PIF annual meeting at Auckland would have been mediocre at best.

What I like about your coverage is the diversity in the issues covered by your team (big and small, ones that have a "traditional fit" and ones "outside the box" etc). Most interesting and most encouraging indeed in terms of demonstrating institutional commitment in capacity building for the long term, you committed yourselves in supporting actual journalism students in asking the questions (some of them ground breaking, like the West Papua question to UN Gen Sec., that the mainstream media quickly dropped) and being the reporters themselves.

I truly think, this is a flagship initiative for homegrown Pacific journalism in the region and hopefully you can also create similar platforms in the future for creating synergies for Asia-Pacific collaborations, helping our neighbours have a better understanding of the Pacific - now that the United Nations (and indeed the international community) has adopted a more inclusive tag for the Asia group of nations to become Asia-Pacific Group.

Vinaka Vakalevu to the all the
Pacific Media Watch team members. Bring it on guys!!!!

Many thanks Mo. And just a quick word of clarification:

The credit is due to the Pacific Scoop project team done in partnership between the independent Scoop Media group and AUT University's Pacific Media Centre. Pacific Media Watch is another PMC project, which included carrying summaries of the student daily Forum file. The team (part of the postgraduate Asia-Pacific Journalism course) was led by Alex Perrottet, PMW's contributing editor, who was chief reporter for the team. The accredited student journalists were: International students involved in the coverage (NZ unless listed otherwise) were: Karen Abplanalp, Kim Austin, Christopher Chang, Chen Bei (China), Nigel Moffiet, Idoko Ojabo (Nigeria), Sarah Robson, Alexander Winkler (Germany), Henry Yamo (Papua New Guinea) and Victoria Young. Kiribati Independent editor Taberannang Korauaba, an AUT graduate, was also part of the team. Take a bow, guys.

Also worth mentioning is Scoop co-editor and general manager Alastair Thompson's message to the students:

David, Congratulations to you and your team on the coverage. I think this has been the best reported Pacific Islands Forum ever - by your team in particular. And in doing such a marvellous job you have set a new bar of professionalism for student/industry journalism projects.

I would also note that you have more than doubled Pacific Scoop's regular traffic for the period ... Finally I think it is worth making the point that while the PIF is important, it is unfortunately very underplayed and misunderstood by the New Zealand media.

The contrast of the sympathic and engaged coverage which you have provided has filled a gap and in many ways shown the professionals how the job ought be done. Sadly resources like those which you provided to this forum are seldom available for any media event in NZ.

Moreover, by providing such a comprehensive window on the myriad of issues facing the nations of the Pacific as you have done - while the diplomatic communities of NZ, Australia, the UN and the EU are watching closely - you have done the Pacific and its peoples a fantastic service.

Thank you and best regards

Alastair Thompson

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